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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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.

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Keith Haring – Photometric Survey
Keith Haring – Photometric Survey


Keith Haring's Collingwood mural

The late New York artist Keith Haring travelled to Australia in 1984 to produce a series of public art projects in Sydney and Melbourne. This included a temporary mural on the NGV Water Wall, and a permanent outdoor work at what was then the Collingwood Technical College on Johnston Street.


Haring's mural in Collingwood is one of only 31 known murals across the world by the artist that have survived to this day. It was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 2004.

Arts Victoria took over management of the site in 2010 when it was identified as the location for the development of the new Circus Oz headquarters. Since then, Arts Victoria has been working on a project to conserve and protect the mural so it can be shared with future generations.

Soon after the mural was painted, the signature piece – a wooden door on which Haring painted his signature along with his trademark baby figure – disappeared. Considered to be long gone, some determined detective work by an Art Victoria staff member resulted in its safe return almost three decades later.

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