The Arts Council of New Orleans has its origin in the Cultural Resources Committee appointed by Mayor Moon Landrieu in 1970. In 1975 the group was incorporated under the name Arts Council of Greater New Orleans and was designated by the Mayor and City Council as the official arts agency for the City of New Orleans. Among its programs and services were fall and spring Brown Bag Concerts and an annual Arts Fest in downtown New Orleans; "Arts Report," a weekly radio program; the Mayor's Arts Awards; "Seldom Seen" exhibits of artworks from private collections; and various projects employing local artists through the CETA program.
In 1978 Mayor Ernest N. Morial reinforced the commitment to the arts espoused in his campaign. The mayor appointed a Task Force on Arts Policy to recommend policies to guide the role of City government in the support and promotion of the arts in New Orleans. The Task Force, composed of thirty-six citizens representing a broad range of interests in the arts, completed its work in May, 1979. The resulting recommendations have formed a basis for subsequent City and Arts Council action while being updated through ongoing planning with public agencies, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and interested individuals.
One recommendation of the 1979 Task Force was that the Mayor establish an Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and a Committee for Arts and Cultural Development was subsequently appointed. It soon became evident, however, that local government could not be the sole support of arts development in New Orleans, and it was obvious that a partnership between the public and private sectors would form a more promising vehicle for generating financial support, maintaining and expanding programs, and sustaining growth for all the arts in this community.
In 1981 the Arts Council of Greater New Orleans and the Mayor's Committee on Arts and Cultural Development merged to form the Arts Council of New Orleans. The thirty-two member Board of Directors is representative of the arts community and the community at large. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local and State governmental agencies, and other nonprofit art organizations to meet the arts needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of programs and services.
Since 1981 the Arts Council has increased its programs and services and broadened its base of support in the community.
Today the Arts Council continues to provide Cultural Planning, Advocacy, Public Art, Economic Development, Arts Education, Marketing, and Grant and Service Initiatives focused on its vision of New Orleans as a flourishing international center for arts and culture.