Music Australia News

New Choir Substitutes Bartering For Membership Fees

Steph Payne directs Willin Wimmin
Jasmine Crittenden
| August 17, 2016

A new choir in Victoria called ReciproVocal accepts members in exchange for goods or services, in lieu of membership fees. Held in Werribee, Victoria, and directed by Steph Payne, the group aims to strengthen community, not only through music, but also through non-fiscal exchange.

“There’s a great level of satisfaction in getting your needs met in a way that’s not financial,” Ms Payne told Community Music Victoria. “As a person with something to offer, as a product or as a service, any of us have a choice in how we exchange that.”

Members are welcome to offer goods or services of any kind, from home-grown vegetables to hair dressing to dog walking.

Ms Payne came up with the idea after attending a bartering workshop at Werribee’s Wyndham Arts Incubator. Directed by Westside Circus founder Debby Maziarz, the event explored the potential for mutually beneficial relationships between artists and businesses.

One of the challenges of ReciproVocal is persuading people to value their skills beyond their financial worth. “We’re all fixated by the concept of money,” Ms Payne said. “On the one hand, it’s a leveller because everything has a monetary value; it’s very open and clear and you can see what you’re buying into. But on a whole lot of other levels, it’s incredibly unfair and messed up. Money’s convenient, but it’s a real trap, and it only gives things one value, when certain things hold much more.”

Ms Payne has directed choirs for more than 15 years and is a member of folk trio Paisley and Plaid. At present, she teaches singing at Melbourne’s Centre For Adult Education, runs Werribee’s Wyndukes Ukulele Group and directs Williamstown’s Willin Wimmin, a women’s community choir.

ReciproVocal was founded on 28 July 2016 and is run over eight-week terms. Sessions take place on Thursday evenings at Werribee’s Wyndham Arts Incubator. Singers of all levels are welcome. For more information, email [email protected].


  1. Dorothy Mowat

    A brilliant idea! I’ve been involved in community music for a long time and for so many (particularly for senior people on a pension) the fees that are asked by some groups are prohibitive. The benefits of belonging to a music group are countless, and the idea of offering skills in exchange for fees in some cases would certainly encourage more to join. Good luck with it all.

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