The well-endowed Melbourne label was the envy of the Australian record industry… until the cash dried up.

In the country’s latest tale of arts funding woes, the Melbourne-based not-for-profit Melba Recordings has been informed that all the label’s financial support from the Australia Council will be cut as of June 30.

Since 2004, when it recorded the complete Adelaide RingCycle in SACD quality, Melba has received $7.2 million in federal funding and produced 67 albums for international distribution, featuring Australian artists including Cheryl Barker, Richard Bonynge, Leslie Howard and Orchestra Victoria (the latter now facing its own funding strife).

Self-styled as “a label of fragrant distinction”, the Melba Foundation’s recording arm releases lavishly packaged albums that are expensive to produce. Australian music retailers have told Limelightanecdotally that most Melba titles do not sell in large quantities. Managing Director Maria Vandamme declined to reveal how many CDs are pressed and sold, insisting the figures are “commercial-in-confidence”.

The Australia Council has given no reason for pulling the plug, but Melba founding patron Barry Tuckwell, the renowned Australian French horn player who has recorded on the label as a conductor, says sales should have no impact on government...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now