Arts Council of New Orleans

City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Date range: 1975-1993; Addendum: 1987-2000
Size of collection: 166 cu. ft.
Source: Arts Council of New Orleans transfers: 1996, 2004 (addendum)
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment

Historical Note

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, nonprofit organization providing programs and services to artists, arts organizations, the business community, and city government. The Arts Council works in partnership with city government to meet the needs of the community based on three guiding principles: supporting the rich and diverse cultures that define this city, acting as an advocate for the cultural community, and promoting the arts as a business and a means of economic development.

In 1975 the City of New Orleans Cultural Resources Committee, which was created in 1970 by Mayor Moon Landrieu and headed by Thomas B. Lemann, received a $150,000 grant from the Zemurray Foundation to create and operate the Arts Council of Greater New Orleans (ACGNO). The private organization incorporated and was designated as the "official arts agency for the City of New Orleans." Geoffrey Platt, Jr. served as the Council's firs t Executive Director.

In 1977 the National Endowment for the Arts provided a $12,000 grant enabling he Arts Council to begin programs which included: The Arts Report radio show, an annual ArtsFest in downtown New Orleans, The Mayor's Arts Awards, Seldom Seen (a series of devel opment events exhibiting artworks from private collections), and a series of Brown Bag Concerts in Lafayette Square and Duncan Plaza.

In 1979 Mayor Ernest N. Morial appointed a Task Force on Arts Policy to recommend policies concerning the role City government should play in the support and promotion of the arts in New Orleans. In 1981 the Task Force merged with ACGNO and became the Art s Council of New Orleans (ACNO) as a partnership of the private and public sectors. Marion Andrus McCollam became the new Executive Director.

Following consolidation, ACNO began to administer the Municipal Endowment Grants for the Arts program. These grants are designed to provide project and operational support to local arts groups. Within one year, twenty-four organizations are awarded a tota l of $239,000.

The early success of the Arts Council set the body on track toward achieving its goal of promoting New Orleans artists on a larger scale. The organization joins with the Louisiana Division of the Arts and seven other arts councils across the state to form the Louisiana Partnership, which is devoted to the advancement of all arts within Louisiana.

In 1984 public art projects became a significant activity of the Arts Council. Two major outgrowths of this initiative were the First International Water Sculpture Competition and Artworks '84. As part of the Louisiana World Exposition of 1984, both even ts focused on the city as a vessel for artistic achievement. Private investment initiatives of the Downtown Development District also provided additional public works of art. In 1987 the Arts Council entered into an annual agreement with the City of New O rleans to establish the Percent For Art Program under which one percent of the proceeds from bonds of most city capital projects is used to fund select works of art.

In 1988 ACNO developed a major plan for a downtown arts district in the Warehouse District. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the master plan creates a blueprint for shaping the 19th century neighborhood into a modem business center for art g alleries and museums, and serves as a catalyst for residential development.

In 1990 the Arts Council began administering the Metropolitan Arts Fund for regranting of corporate funds to medium and smaller arts organizations. Shirley Trusty Corey signed on as the new Executive Director in the following year. In 1992 the Arts Counc il Program for Youth began summer job training initiatives in conjunction with the Job Training Partnership Art and the Orleans Private Industry Council. In the same year, the Entergy Arts Business Center, operated by the Arts Council, was established as an arts Incubator providing management and business resources, as well as skills and training, to artists and arts organization.

This brief historical sketch was adapted from a longer presentation on the ACNO web site.

Scope and Content

The records include correspondence/subject files, grant files, financial documents, files relating to individual ACNO projects, and miscellaneous files. They document the Council's grant-making function, activities of the Board of Directors, arts and comm unity activities of the Executive Director and other staff members, and the relationship of ACNO with individual artists, arts organizations, donors/potential donors (both individual and corporate), and government agencies. More detailed information on th e scope and contents of these records is included in the individual series and subseries descriptions that follow.

The series arrangement adopted for the records follows as much as possible the original order in which they were received from the Arts Council. The physical arrangement of folders within each series is preliminary. The folder inventories for each series are in alphabetical order but each inventory item refers to a physical box number/folder number location (i.e., the folders are not arranged in alphabetical order within the storage boxes). Individual folders should be requested by title, box, and fold er location.

Several record types were discarded during the appraisal/arrangement process. These include most acknowledgements of donations/memberships, resumes, personnel files, thank you letters, and working files. Also discarded were most materials relating to nati onal affiliations of the Arts Council, including newsletters, annual meeting materials, committee reports, etc. Such materials were retained, however, when ACNO staff members were active participants in preparing the materials in question.

In addition to the series described below, the records also include a an uninventoried box of ACNO publications.

In 2004, ACNO deposited an additional 16 cubic feet of records with the City Archives. These records are described in the Addendum linked below. They are comprised largely of grant files for the Louisiana Decentralized Arts Funding Program (1995-1997) and the MEG/Arts -- METRO/ACNO Program (1995), and also include grants for Public Art, as well as general administrative files and files relating to the 1999-2000 "Festival of Fins."

Series Arrangement

The records are arranged in series as follows. Click on a series title for a description and folder listing. Individual folders should be requested by title, box, and folder location.

CETA Files, 1977-1979
City Spirit Project Files, 1976-1980
Development Files, 1987-1992
Downtown Development District Files, 1977-1982
Financial Files, 1984-1989
Grant Files, 1988
Job Training Partnership Act Files, 1992
Louisiana World Exposition Files, 1984
MEG/Arts Files, 1982-1992
Metro/ACNO Grant Files, 1989-1992
Miscellaneous Files
New Century/New Orleans Plan Files, 1990-1992
New Orleans International Airport Files, 1989-1993
Program Files, 1987-1989
R/UDAT--Duncan Plaza Project Files, 1978-1980
Save Outdoor Sculpture Project Files, 1992
Subject Files, 1975-1992
Videocassettes, 1988
Working Files, 1991

Addendum, 1987-2000

coded: April 19, 2000, Wayne Everard
Addendum, 3/2007, IW

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