In Literary & Arts

Victoria Minister for Arts Heidi Victoria

Arts Flashback: Celebrating 40 Years Of Arts Victoria

Victor P Taffa

It was the decade that gave us colour television and FM radio, Skyhooks and Saturday Night Fever, and our very first Minister for the Arts who put arts and culture on the agenda here in Victoria.

Arts Minister Heidi Victoria today celebrated the 1970’s and the decade’s impact on the development of Victoria’s arts sector with the launch of the first part of an online project to mark 40 years of Arts Victoria.


Mrs Victoria said over the coming months Arts Victoria’s Arts Flashback an online timeline replete with stories, interviews and photo galleries would provide an overview of the growth and development of the arts in Victoria from the 1970’s to the present.

“The 1970’s was a monumental decade for the arts in Victoria. It saw the appointment of Victoria’s first Minister for the Arts Rupert Hamer a great visionary who was also Premier, the creation of Australia’s first state Ministry for the Arts, now known as Arts Victoria, and the birth of a whole raft of arts organisations and venues.”

Mrs. Victoria said that while the arts had received support from government before this point, the establishment of the Ministry a body dedicated to developing and promoting the arts sparked continuous and bipartisan investment in the arts and our state-wide cultural infrastructure that continues to this day.

“When the Victorian Ministry of the Arts opened its doors in 1973, under the directorship of former NGV director Dr. Eric Westbrook, Victoria was a markedly different place.” Mrs. Victoria said.

“Here in Melbourne the Gas and Fuel Towers, only a few years old, dominated the site we know now as Federation Square; Moomba was our only major festival; the NGV on St. Kilda Road had only been open for five years and the Museum was still housed at the State Library; plans for the construction of Melbourne’s Arts Centre had stalled and Southbank was a neglected industrial zone; and across Victoria while there was already an established network of art galleries there were few, if any, professional performance venues or places for the community to experience, participate in and enjoy the arts.”

Charting 40 years of the arts in Victoria, the timeline includes interviews with Victoria’s former arts ministers and former Arts Victoria directors, profiles on many of Victoria’s arts organisations, and archival photos and stories about significant arts initiatives and projects throughout the decades. It will be released decade by decade over the next four months, starting with the 1970’s.

“As we flash back through the decades we can literally see Victoria’s renowned arts sector grow, develop and mature into what we have today.” Mrs. Victoria said.

“In the 1970’s alone, we witness the births of the VCA, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Circus Oz, the Australian Tapestry Workshop, St. Martin’s, Malthouse Theatre, Arts Access, Wodonga’s Flying Fruit Flies Circus and Hothouse Theatre, Castlemaine Festival, Film Victoria, and the start of a statewide network of regional performing arts centres.

“It’s an extraordinary success story and one we should celebrate.”

Mrs. Victoria said the recent success of White Night Melbourne would not have been possible without the strong and robust arts sector, the adventurous audiences, the creative talent and the extraordinary cultural infrastructure that have been nurtured in Victoria over the past forty years.

“Arts Victoria’s 40th anniversary year gives us an opportunity to celebrate this great strength of our state, reflect on the role the arts play in our own lives, and get out there and enjoy the very best arts experiences Victoria has to offer.”


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