Compass Music Festival

Years 3 to 12 students and teachers

The Compass Music Festival provides an opportunity for both primary and secondary regional and rural students to perform in a local festival, enhancing local opportunities for NSW public school students to create music and express themselves. 

    student singing

    Applications open for schools interested in delivering Compass 2023

    Applications close Wednesday 7 December

    The Arts Unit seeks regional and rural schools interested in managing and delivering a local music festival. This initiative is most suited to schools with teaching staff interested in building their capacity to manage and deliver large-scale arts programs with substantial support from the unit’s events teams.

    After a successful pilot of the Compass Music Festival in Coffs Harbour in 2022, The Arts Unit will assist in facilitating this event in additional regional areas during 2023 and potentially into 2024. Flexible delivery dates are established in consultation with the local community.

    All Compass Music Festival repertoire and support materials are provided for this local event and are based on the repertoire for the Festival of Choral Music, Festival of Instrumental Music and In Concert choral performances. This allows schools to potentially be involved in both local and state performance opportunities.

    Both primary and secondary schools are involved in separate and combined festival choirs and recorder ensembles. A further extension is available through a wind orchestra, featured secondary choir, recorder consort and string ensemble. These ensembles receive a weekend workshop prior to the festival. The Arts Unit provides substantial support and opportunities to build teacher capacity in large-scale arts program management through online professional learning for participating teachers, as well as local rehearsals in the lead-up to the festival.

    A small school participation fee is incurred for students/schools involved as performers. Where required, The Arts Unit may be able to provide an orchestra or ensemble to support local performers.

    The Arts Unit will provide successful schools with the following:

    • early access to the selected repertoire and supporting materials for the Compass Music Festival, based on the repertoire of the Festival of Choral Music, Festival of Instrumental Music and In Concert choral performances
    • tailored professional learning, administrative and creative support, both digital and face to face
    • a local cluster rehearsal prior to the event
    • some financial support, but with an expectation that participating schools will contribute to some of the costs, such as student participation fees and the payment of 1-2 casual relief days for organising teachers.

    Applications are invited from interested primary and/or secondary teaching staff in a regional and/or rural setting, including non-teaching school leaders. All applications will be assessed on an individual basis. Ideally, the festival requires at least 3 interested schools in the local area (context-dependent). Only one school per area is required to submit this application on behalf of the interested schools.

    Applicants submitting on behalf of their school and the local area should satisfy the following required criteria for this opportunity:

    • interested in developing their own and/or others' skills in large-scale arts events management, including practical delivery and evaluation
    • availability and capacity to participate in and/or manage a large-scale event during 2023 and potentially into 2024
    • support from their Director Educational Leadership (DEL) for the running of a Compass Music Festival in their local area
    • support from the school principal for their application
    • evidence of a number of interested schools (at least 3) in their local area willing to be involved in the Compass Music Festival (context-dependent) – this may be a short statement from the principals of the interested schools
    • evidence of approximately 3 local principals or school leaders (context-dependent) within a community of schools who are willing to assist in leadership and management of the Compass Music Festival (these may be the same as those above) - this may be a short statement from the principals of the interested schools
    • interest in developing their skills in large-scale arts events management, including practical delivery and evaluation
    • available and have the capacity to coordinate a large-scale event during 2023 and into the future.

    To apply for this opportunity, interested teachers should prepare an application on behalf of their school community (at least 3 schools) by completing this application form. Applications close 28 November, 2022.

    Please be aware that this Festival will be contingent on advice provided by the Department of Education in consultation with NSW Health, and can change at short notice. Department of Education latest information on COVID-19 advice.


    For further information concerning the Compass Music Festival contact Simon Kermode, Arts Coordination Officer, The Arts Unit – email: or


    Simon Kermode
    Arts Coordination Officer
    Coffs Harbour
    Julia Brennan
    Arts Programs and Initiatives Coordinator
    The Arts Unit

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