At its peak, Queensland Arts Council was the largest touring organisation of its kind in the world.
Few Queenslanders were untouched by its creative energy and its artistic reach, with thousands of regional volunteers forming Local Arts Council branches in over 80 communities, including Ipswich.
The Ipswich Art Gallery is currently showing an exhibition Cover Story – The Queensland Arts Council Cover Art and Poster Collection 1981-2008 which is a collection of cover designs for a broad range of marketing collateral used to promote the Queensland Arts Council’s many productions and programs.
By the mid 1980s, one of the largest and most successful of these programs was Ontour inschools. This state-wide program employed hundreds of artists, who presented thousands of performances, to over 800,000 children each year.
Ipswich’s Arthur Frame was the CEO and artistic director of Queensland Arts Council for nearly 30 years.
In that time he was the CEO and Artistic Director of Queensland Arts Council for 16 years and Director of the Schools Touring Program for eleven years from 1986 until 1997.
“I would commissioned three artists each year to submit a concept design,” Mr Frame said.
“Each year they would all be given the same brief: Represent a range of art forms in the program including actors, singers, dancers, puppeteers, musicians, storytellers and mime artists.
“It was important for artist and a highly sort after commission, it would help establish their careers as artists and children’s illustrators.”
Mr Frame said this exhibition is a unique and important collection as Cover Story is your story too.
“Anyone who went to school in Queensland in the past 60 years were probably the recipient of one of the Queensland Arts Council shows,” Mr Frame said.
“This is part of Queensland’s cultural heritage, it’s a significant collection.”
It’s a collection of artworks that was almost lost after the company (later rebranded Artslink Queensland) went into voluntary administration.
Mr Frame and The Australian Cultural Library stepped in to rescue the artwork on display.
“I think it is very sad that the program no longer exists but I want to focus on what it did provide for half a century as the arts have a uniquely important role to play in schools,” Mr Frame said.
“People like Billy Brown and Geoffrey Rush has their first experiences in the theatre with this program.
“This exhibition conveys, and is symbolic of, the stories of the thousands of artists, arts workers and volunteers who spent time with the Queensland Arts Council on such a worthy artistic endeavour.”
The exhibition includes works by internationally known Australian children’s illustrators and authors including Graeme Base, Alison Lester, Narelle Oliver, Charlotte Thodey, Bronwyn Bancroft, Stephen Axelsen and Margaret Early.
Cover Story – The Queensland Arts Council Cover Art and Poster Collection 1981-2008 is on display at the Ipswich Art Gallery from 10am until 5pm daily until Sunday, 3 November.