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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Gumnut Boogie Band, Next Wave Festival 1985
Gumnut Boogie Band, Next Wave Festival 1985. Photo: Peter Akbiyik


Next Wave

1985 was the International Year of Youth, and to mark the occasion (which also coincided with Victoria's 150th anniversary celebrations), the Victorian Government provided funding of $30,000 to stage a Victorian Youth Arts Festival. Andrew Bleby was appointed festival director and one of his first jobs was to come up with a better name than the Victorian Youth Arts Festival. And so Next Wave was born!


The first Next Wave festival took place from 16 to 31 August 1985, with a focus on developing and presenting work by young Australian artists. It became a major highlight of Victoria's 150th – involving over 60,000 people in 400 events.

Originally planned as a 'one-off', with no secured funding or prospects of a future, the success of the first event led to a second event in May 1988, followed by a third in May 1990.

Next Wave is now a biennial festival and artist development organisation that promotes and showcases the work of young and emerging Australian artists (aged 16 to 30). It supports the creation and presentation of new work across all art form areas, pushing the boundaries of traditional media and encouraging connections between diverse art forms and disciplines.

In non-festival years, the organisation runs Kickstart, a development program for artists to develop new work in a supportive environment. This includes workshops covering all aspects of project development, from the creative to the administrative. The program culminates in work-in-progress showings, with the potential of the final work to be included in the following Next Wave festival.

The next Next Wave will be held in May 2014, and will respond to the theme 'New Grand Narrative'.

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