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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery interior
Inside the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, circa 1987


Swan Hill Art Gallery

Inspired by the Australian woolshed, the mud brick, purpose-built home of the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery opened in 1987. The project was spearheaded by a passionate group of locals who formed The Art Associates Incorporated in 1982, and worked tirelessly to raise funds and lobby government to ensure the building was completed.


In 1974 the gallery was officially established as part of the Regional Art Gallery network in Victoria.

The Gallery actually started life more than two decades earlier, in 1966, and was originally located on the paddle steamer 'Gem'. It soon became evident that this unique location was inadequate for housing a growing permanent collection of art and the many touring exhibitions that were on offer.

Today Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery is recognised as having one of Australia's most comprehensive collections of naïve art. Along with its growing collection of Australian works on paper, prints and drawings, the Gallery presents a busy program of touring exhibitions, education programs and events throughout the year.

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