UPDATE: The CBAA has issued TIO a statement:

“Some issues raised today relate to ongoing work that the CBAA is doing internally and with others like the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF),” reads a statement issued to TIO.

“We are in a consultation phase of a review aimed at reducing administrative overheads, increasing collaboration and maximising outcomes for our stakeholders. The goals of the review are specific and not intended to impact the availability of CBAA services for musicians and stations. The information shared publicly by Chris Johnson refers to a draft future proposed model made available to all staff in late 2017 as part of ongoing consultation. This has been led by an independent facilitator and all staff have been provided ongoing opportunities in individual, group and all staff meetings, as well as in writing, to provide input on the CBAA’s future structure, and such opportunities are continuing.”

The CBAA added, “It has been proposed that a CBAA-led Amrap advisory committee would include members of the music industry and provide a platform for regular and meaningful discussion and input into the project’s aims and future directions. This model has proved successful with the CBAA’s Community Radio Network.”

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A tremendous rift has opened between CBAA and Amrap, which breaks away from its management parent due to what the organisation describes as a series of conduct, governance and management issues that have made the relationship “untenable.”

Amrap, the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project, which was revitalised with federal government funding ten years ago to facilitate spins and exposure of homegrown music at community radio, issued an explosive report in which it outlines its grievances and calls on the Community Broadcasting Foundation to clean up the mess, hinting that failure to do so could bring in the big guns from the music sector and Canberra.

With immediate effect, all six members of the Amrap team, including its manager Chris Johnson, have left the CBAA premises, where it rented office space for several years, and reunited in an unknown location under the so-called Republic of Amrap.

Johnson and his teammates are now volunteering their time and using personal resources as a “peaceful action, to protect this vital Australian music project from the CBAA’s conduct and their misguided restructure of Amrap,” according to an open letter posted Tuesday (Jan. 9) at www.amrap.org/republic.

The document should make for interesting reading for the industry and independent music community.

A six-year timeline is fleshed out under the title, “The Disintegration of Governance & Management of Amrap,” in which Amrap claims to have been ignored and sidelined and, ultimately, engulfed by the peak body, which since Amrap was born, has received auspicing rights to the project via the Community Broadcasting Foundation, and collected Amrap’s government funding and musicians income.

As the concerns escalated, Amrap says its independent advisory and finance committee was disbanded last year as the CBAA quietly initiated a restructuring which essentially allows the association to absorb Amrap. And “Amrap no longer has a dedicated committee to stop it.” The CBAA’s new structure spreads Amrap across various CBAA departments making it impossible to untangle Amrap and do its job effectively, explains Johnson.

The Amrap team. L-R: Chelsea Deeley, Ben Briedis, Brooke Olsen, Kate Marning, Chris Johnson, Maddy Stirton

Speaking exclusively with TIO, Johnson says the situation has festered for too long and, after bringing the myriad issues to the attention of CBAA management and the Community Broadcasting Foundation’s Executive on repeated occasions, the response was inadequate. The creation of a new structure with no meaningful consultation was the last straw. So he decided to turn whistleblower.

The action plan is spelled out in four points. Cancel the CBAA’s management of Amrap; put Amrap into caretaker mode; collect Amrap assets, funding and musicians’ fees that are held by the CBAA; and identify a new management structure for Amrap that consists of qualified community radio and Australian music experts.

Johnson and his teammates — Brooke Olsen, Chelsea Deeley, Ben Briedis, Kate Marning and Maddy Stirton — put their faces to the campaign in an online video, which can be seen below.

“We’re volunteering to protect this vital public asset for Aussie musicians and community radio,” explains Johnson in the video. “We need the Foundation to sort all this CBAA nonsense out by the end of the week, and we need your help to make it happen.”

Watch as Amrap publicly calls for Community Broadcasting Foundation intervention:

Johnson insists he and his team aren’t hijacking Amrap. “The Republic of Amrap campaign may seem unconventional, but it’s a common-sense solution to a serious issue that we need the Australian music and community radio sectors to join forces on,” Johnson exclusively tells TIO. “The Amrap team,” he adds, “have risked their livelihoods to create a fair future for Australian artists and the amazing community broadcasters that support Australian music.”

The Republic of Amrap is canvassing support for the Community Broadcasting Foundation — which provides the Amrap management contract and funds to the CBAA — to swiftly resolve the situation. Click through here for Amrap’s letter of support and details of its social media campaign.

The CBAA responded late Tuesday.

“Some issues raised today relate to ongoing work that the CBAA is doing internally and with others like the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF),” reads a statement issued to TIO.

“We are in a consultation phase of a review aimed at reducing administrative overheads, increasing collaboration and maximising outcomes for our stakeholders. The goals of the review are specific and not intended to impact the availability of CBAA services for musicians and stations. The information shared publicly by Chris Johnson refers to a draft future proposed model made available to all staff in late 2017 as part of ongoing consultation. This has been led by an independent facilitator and all staff have been provided ongoing opportunities in individual, group and all staff meetings, as well as in writing, to provide input on the CBAA’s future structure, and such opportunities are continuing.”

The CBAA added, “It has been proposed that a CBAA-led Amrap advisory committee would include members of the music industry and provide a platform for regular and meaningful discussion and input into the project’s aims and future directions. This model has proved successful with the CBAA’s Community Radio Network.”

For more return to TIO.