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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Australian Contemporary Art Fair program cover 1988
Australian Contemporary Art Fair program cover 1988


First Australian Contemporary Art Fair

The first Australian Contemporary Art Fair (ACAF) was held at the Royal Exhibition Building from 23-31 July 1988, featuring 23 of Australia's leading contemporary art galleries. The biennial event aimed to promote contemporary art and the work of living artists, and in its first year brought together the work of more than 150 Australian artists, including paintings, sculpture, photography, prints and video. Most of the artworks were for sale.


By the second event in June 1990, the Fair had more than doubled in size with over 50 galleries presenting the work of some 500 artists.

By 2000, ACAF became the Melbourne Art Fair, a name change which reflected similar fairs around the world, and it had become more international in scope.

The 2012 Melbourne Art Fair was presented by over 80 selected national and international galleries, featuring works by over 900 artists. The event attracted around 30,000 visitors, and generated an estimate $5 million in sales.

The next Melbourne Art Fair will be presented in 2014.

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