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Arts Council of New Orleans records

Identifier: CA-HA

Scope and Contents

The records include correspondence/subject files, grant files, financial documents, files, and miscellaenous materials relating to individual ACNO projects. Records have been deposited in 1996, 2004, 2011, and 2017. They document the Council's grant-making function, activities of the Board of Directors, arts and community 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. Also included are the files for the Louisiana Decentralized Arts Funding Program (1995-1997) and the MEG/Arts METRO/ACNO Program (1995), grants for Public Art, and general administrative files and files relating to the 1999-2000 "Festival of Fins." More detailed information on the 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.


  • Creation: 1975-2017


Conditions Governing Access

Available to registered researchers by appointment. Request by box and folder number.

Requesting Materials

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction or use of materials is prohibited without the permission of the City Archives & Special Collections. Please review the Archives' Permission to Publish note.

Biographical / Historical

The Arts Council of New Orleans is an unattached council and public-private 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 first 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 Arts 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 were awarded a total of $239,000.

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 events focused on the city. 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 Orleans 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 created a blueprint for shaping the 19th century neighborhood into a modern business center for art glleries and museums.

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 Council 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 a defunct version of the ACNO website. Contemporary information can be found on their current website.


166 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arts Council of New Orleans records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
based on finding aid created by former City Archives staff; reformatted for ArchivesSpace by bsilva in 2024

Repository Details

Part of the City Archives Repository

City Archives & Special Collections
219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans LA 70112