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.

Arts Access Victoria's Art Day South program. Image courtesy of Arts Access Victoria
Arts Access Victoria's Art Day South program. Image courtesy of Arts Access Victoria


Establishment of Arts Access Victoria

Arts Access Victoria, Victoria's leading arts and disability organisation, began in 1974 as a one-person community arts project, based at the Victorian Council of Social Service in Collingwood.


In the early 1970s Arts Access Victoria founder Judy Morton (now Arts Victoria's research manager), was working in the welfare sector, researching community service issues. In 1973, a visit from Betsy Hite – an arts management consultant and founding member of Hospital Audiences Incorporated (HAI) in New York – provided Judy with the inspiration to shift the research into action. She investigated the feasibility of creating a local arts body to organise visiting theatre performances in hospitals, prisons and disability institutions and to distribute low cost or free entertainment tickets.

In 1973, Judy successfully applied to the Australia Council with a submission for a six-month pilot project, and, with additional philanthropic support, Arts Access Victoria was born. Over the next few years Arts Access Victoria developed a philosophy of artistic practice and a breadth of programs that distinguished it from other organisations of its kind both here and overseas. Unfortunately, with no continuous source of administrative funding and despite a public appeal, the programs were suspended at the end of 1977.

Two years later, after much voluntary effort from an enormous support network, Arts Access Victoria was formally constituted and programs resumed with a small grant from the Schools Commission. Throughout the 1980s, now having secured funding through the Ministry for the Arts, Arts Access Victoria grew. It expanded its advocacy, information and resource programs, cultivated major long-term artistic initiatives and commenced training workshops throughout regional Victoria.

In 1982 the organisation received broad public attention through a project called Theorem. Chilean artist Aldo Gennaro was employed to run a series of arts workshops for people with disabilities, which culminated in two sell-out performances at the newly opened Melbourne Concert Hall.

Today Arts Access Victoria works across the state with the arts, disability, community and education sectors to deliver increased and improved opportunities for arts and cultural participation. It delivers 100 arts projects and initiatives each year to enable people with a disability to create art, experience art or work in the arts.

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