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 Aussie troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and in 1975 our PM was controversially dismissed.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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Paramount Arts Activity Centre Echuca – opened March 1979


Music '81

The third – and biggest – in the series of year-long Arts Victoria festivals, Music '81 celebrated all things musical. It was a truly state-wide affair with communities receiving funding to stage special music events. The festival embraced all forms of music – rock and pop, military and brass bands, choirs and orchestras, even a yodelling competition on the snowy peaks of Mount Baw Baw!


An ambitious 'Composer-in-the- Community' project created new works of local significance and showed that while the needs of the communities varied, the presence of an artist as a focus for community involvement had positive effects.

The impact of Music '81 extended beyond the festival year. The establishment of the Shepparton Music Foundation drew together local music, dance and music-theatre resources to promote and develop programs for the longer term. Arts Bendigo performed a similar function in Bendigo. In areas as diverse as Leongatha and Camberwell, Music '81 programs continued into the following year and beyond.

Two conferences also took place under the umbrella of Music '81 – an International Music and Technology Conference and a Medicine and Music Conference. This generated considerable interest and led to the formation of an Arts–Health Advisory Committee.

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