Arts Flashback

To celebrate Arts Victoria's 40th anniversary we've hit the archives
and uncovered some choice moments in the development of
Victoria's arts sector.

Click on the images below to view the stories and photo galleries, share them with others, and find out how Victoria grew to be the arts and cultural powerhouse it is today.


Bell-bottoms, handlebar moustaches, platform shoes, our daring approach to fashion (and facial hair) belied an era of serious social change and political drama in 1970s Australia.

We scrapped the White Australia Policy and welcomed an era of multiculturalism. Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.

We had more leisure time that ever before. Norm coaxed us off the couch with Life. Be in it and we got fit. But when we weren't out BMXing, ten-pin bowling or roller-skating, we were listening to Skyhooks and Sherbet, tuning into the new world of FM radio, and watching Number 96 on our brand new colour TVs.

Here in Victoria, a creative community of artists, craftspeople, theatre-makers and musicians were laying the foundation of the mighty independent arts sector we enjoy today.

Premier Rupert Hamer put the arts firmly on the Government's agenda with the creation of Australia's first state Ministry for the Arts. Its first priorities? Getting the construction of Southbank's Arts Centre complex moving, creating a chain of regional performing arts centres, and bringing art out into the public.


Power suit, punk or poodle perm, the 1980s brought us a new attitude and hair to match.

We were 'living in a material world', gripped by the Azaria Chamberlain case and rocked by AIDS and the Ash Wednesday Bushfires. We saw the Berlin Wall fall and the stock market crash, bringing with it the recession 'we had to have'.

We danced to Footloose, dressed like Bananarama and played Donkey Kong, but not all our cultural influences were imported.

Aussie music had a new swagger thanks to INXS, Midnight Oil and Men at Work; we met our Neighbours (hello Kylie); Crocodile Dundee was a worldwide phenomenon; and John Farnham's Whispering Jack became the highest grossing Australian album. Ever.

Green and gold were proclaimed our official colours and Advance Australia Fair our anthem. We made it great in '88 – Australia's Bicentenary – and cheered Australia II to its historic America's Cup victory.

Here in Victoria, our cultural landscape – and Melbourne's skyline – changed with the long-awaited opening of the Arts Centre; while the Ministry for the Arts turned its attention to education, community arts, cultural tourism and support for individual artists.