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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Weeping Woman 1937 © Pablo Picasso/Succession Picasso. Licensed by Viscopy, 2013.
Weeping Woman 1937 © Pablo Picasso/Succession Picasso. Licensed by Viscopy, 2013.


Theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman

One of the National Gallery of Victoria's prized works, Picasso's Weeping Woman was stolen from the St Kilda Road gallery on the weekend of 2/3 August 1986. A group calling themselves the Australian Cultural Terrorists claimed responsibility, and issued a list of demands in exchange for its safe return. These included an increase in arts funding and the establishment of an annual art prize for artists under 30.


The painting was discovered two weeks later – after an anonymous phone call to The Age – wrapped in brown paper in a locker at Spencer Street Station.

NGV director at the time, Patrick McCaughey, said: "It is going to be bolted to the wall and placed behind glass. If you want to take the painting next time, you will have to take the entire airconditioning duct."

Read some news coverage from the time: