The Australian National University's School of Music wants the Canberra community to know that it's thriving once again.
After years of rebuilding, the school's new community advisory board has been established with the aim of reconnecting with the local arts scene and embedding the school deeply within it.
Head of the school associate professor Kim Cunio said enrolments were nearly the highest they've ever been and the new board, chaired by former Labor politician Bob McMullan, would help reshape public perceptions.
"The last three years have been a quiet and remarkable turnaround and one of the reasons we wanted to form the board was this sort of community perception that the school is still suffering from things that happened years ago," he said.
"On the ground it is a happening, thriving place again."
Deep funding cuts in 2012 and leadership upheaval left the prestigious music school in rough shape.
Associate Professor Cunio said combination of tradition and innovation had contributed to the recent successes of the school. It's now a place where you can learn classical and jazz while experimenting with cutting-edge technology.
Bob McMullan, who was federal arts minister from 1993 to 1994 in the Keating government, met with the ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay to open the lines of communication.
"We're really looking for cooperation, looking at ways in which we can do things together with other parts of the arts community in in Canberra.
"We've got people on the board who have well locked into all that and I think we can do some good things together."
Other board members include Genevieve Jacobs, Catherine Carter, Tony Henshaw, Tim Benson, Robyn Holmes, deputy head of the ANU School of Music, Dr Paul McMahon and associate professor Cunio.
Mr McMullan said the school's image would gradually shift as it became more active.
"People will start to realize that it's back and it's active and you can start to change the public assessment of a school," he said.
The ANU School of Music was forced to rethink its teaching model when the pandemic reached Australian shores.
It cancelled all group ensembles, moved to virtual lectures and held some courses with a hybrid model. Some teachers had their hours cut back.
The challenges of teaching performance have been more difficult to overcome.
"The funny thing is where even though technologies advanced we're about 10 years off the holy grail of music technology which is to have people playing different places with good quality," he said.
"We spent the first, maybe six weeks of COVID testing every available platform and occasionally that worked quite well for about 10 minutes and then it would all crash."
In the absence of a viable technological solution, the school opted for a two-week intensive session in July.
Associate Professor Cunio said rather than being turned away from the arts in favour of "job-ready" courses, more people were being drawn to music degrees in troubled times, especially in combination with other fields of study.
"I'm getting quite a lot of good musicians calling in saying, 'I never thought I'd say this but I think I want to come back and do a PhD because this is a time where I can really think about my future'," he said.
"We're seeing that from high level, internationally recognised professional musicians, down to people who were just finishing school and they're going, well, if life's going to be hard I want to seize the moment."