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.

1970s

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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Tapestry commissioned by the City of London to mark the Australian Bicentenary, Guildhall, London. Artist: Murray Walker. Weavers: Joanne Mills, Tass Mavrogordato, Victorian Tapestry Workshop.
Tapestry commissioned by the City of London to mark the Australian Bicentenary, Guildhall, London. Artist: Murray Walker. Weavers: Joanne Mills, Tass Mavrogordato, Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

1988

Australia's Bicentennial Year

1988 was Australia's bicentennial year, and here in Victoria the Minister for the Arts was delegated as the Minister Assisting the Premier on Bicentennial matters. The bicentenary celebrations included an array of special exhibitions, performances, lectures, conferences and events, including an influx of international cultural activity.

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Highlights included visits by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a series of Bicentennial lectures presented by Washington's Smithsonian, and performances by French chamber orchestra Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain and America's Twyla Tharp Dance.

The Ministry for the Arts also administered a $31.6 million Commonwealth/State Bicentennial capital works program, funded equally by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments. Twenty-six major projects were supported throughout Victoria, including a new home for The Australian Ballet in Southbank

Further afield, the City of London commissioned a $30,000 bicentennial tapestry, designed by Murray Walker and made by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, to hang in London's famous Guildhall.

The tapestry depicts Captain Arthur Phillip's association with the City of London, where he was born, and the part he played in the founding of Australia as Commander of the First Fleet. It was hung at the entrance to the crypt, almost all that remained of the original medieval structure, much of which was rebuilt in 1411 when Dick Whittington was Lord Mayor of London.

Coinciding with the last week of the Spoleto Festival in October was Australia's first ever National Arts Week. All Australians were invited to visit a gallery, attend a live performance and enjoy the country's rich cultural life.

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