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.

Paramount Arts Activity Centre Echuca – opened March 1979
Paramount Arts Activity Centre Echuca – opened March 1979

1970s

Regional Performing Arts Centres project

Victoria's state-wide network of regional galleries was already well established and highly regarded in the 1970s, but quality performing arts infrastructure was scarce. From day one, the Ministry of the Arts was changed with establishing a chain of performing arts centres in Victoria to match the success of galleries. A huge and ambitious undertaking.

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Throughout the 1970s, work commenced on the construction, or major renovation, of no less than nine regional venues across the State, including both professional performing arts centres and community arts facilities.

Assistance for these venues was provided on the basis of a 2:1 formula: two-thirds from State Government, with the remainder from local sources or local government.

The first of the community arts centres opened in Echuca (the Paramount, named after an old cinema which stood on the site) in March 1979 and the second in Ararat (the renovated Town Hall) in April, followed soon after by Kyneton and Warburton.

By the end of the decade, construction had begun on the Geelong Performing Arts Centre; planning for the West Gippsland Arts Centre in Warragul had reached an advanced stage; and the Government approved support for the conversion of the Town Hall in Warrnambool to an Arts Centre and for a community arts centre in Sale.

This work has been continued by successive Victorian Governments and today virtually every regional centre in Victoria has a professional performing arts venue. The most recent to join the network were Warrnambool's Lighthouse Theatre and The Cube in Wodonga (both opened in 2012), and plans are underway for a venue in Horsham.

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