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.

First Festival of All Nations marches down Napier Street Fitzroy, Courtesy of Multicultural Arts Victoria
First Festival of All Nations marches down Napier Street Fitzroy, Courtesy of Multicultural Arts Victoria


Festival of All Nations established

In 1973 a small group of migrant communities in Fitzroy got together, under the auspices of the local council, to stage a cultural celebration. With no funding, bar some in-kind support and venues provided by the Fitzroy City Council, this multicultural band of volunteers held the first Festival of All Nations, and created what would later become Multicultural Arts Victoria.


The first Festival of All Nations presented a varied array of film and free events. The official program was published in four languages – English, Yugoslav, Italian and Greek. It was a great success and the following year attracted funding from both the Victorian Ministry for the Arts and the Australia Council, which provided $2,500 and $1,250 respectively.

The 1976 Festival of All Nations was opened by the Premier and Minister for the Arts, Rupert Hamer at the Grand Ball, now a regular highlight of the program.1978 saw the appointment of the festival's first full-time coordinator.

By the early 1980s there were almost 60 participating communities, and the festival had become a broadly-based arts organisation operating throughout the year. It undertook resource, advisory and developmental activities; agency and liaison services; and entrepreneurial, community education and promotional activities. It presented concerts and activities at the Royal Melbourne Show, Australia Day and Moomba; and produced events at metropolitan and regional venues. The festival itself had become one of a number of significant events in the organisation's annual calendar.

Reflecting its expanded scope and purpose, the organisation changed its name to Multicultural Arts Victoria. Multicultural Arts Victoria was officially launched on 24 November 1983 in the presence of arts and community groups at the new Melbourne Concert Hall (now Hamer Hall).

Forty years after blazing a trail with the first Festival of All Nations, Multicultural Arts Victoria is now Victoria's lead organisation promoting cultural diversity in the arts. Last year MAV worked with more than 1,600 individual artists, 1,000 artistic groups and more than 400 cultural and linguistically diverse communities across Victoria.

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