Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Our Mission

Our mission is to support, promote, and advance arts and culture.

Our Vision

Our vision is a community where arts and culture are recognized as integral to the lives of all people. 

Who We Are

The Arts Council is the local umbrella arts agency that provides a unified voice for all the cultural organizations and activities in Tampa and Hillsborough County and promotes the good news about the cultural vitality of our community to a national audience.

What We Do

The Arts Council is committed to lead the charge to ensure a healthy environment for arts and culture in this community for generations to come. We galvanize widespread support for arts and culture while also providing grants, unified marketing efforts, research, and advocacy to help our entire cultural community thrive.

Why We Matter

Our efforts play a vital role in making Tampa and Hillsborough County more appealing to new residents, tourists, and employers looking for a new home.


The Arts Council is an independent special district of Hillsborough County and its official state designation is Local Arts Agency. We are governed by a 15-member board of directors appointed by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. Our Board members serve four-year terms.

Arts Council services include grant programs for nonprofit cultural organizations, individual artist grants, arts-in-education programs in the Hillsborough County School District, an online calendar of art events in Tampa Bay, an online provider directory of cultural programming, monthly arts networking meetings, workshops and special events. The Arts Council also provides executive representation of the arts on local government committees, task forces and community outreach organizations.

History

Today’s Arts Council began in 1967 when the State Legislature created the Arts Council of Tampa as a public authority and gave it three mandates:

  • Promote, coordinate and develop the arts,
  • Contract for artistic services, performances and exhibitions, and
  • Develop a center or complex of facilities for the arts.

The Council contracted with the Hillsborough County School Board to provide an Artists-in-the-Schools program; helped develop the Tampa Museum of Art in 1979; helped found the Artist’s Alliance; ran a storefront gallery from 1977-1981; assumed management, programming, and restoration of the Tampa Theatre in 1976 and created numerous publications, programs, public art initiatives, and outreach efforts as needs arose. There was also research into building a Civic Center in place of the old Curtis Hixon Hall. As time went on, the Arts Council of Tampa became the Tampa-Hillsborough Arts Council and later the County passed an ordinance recognizing the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.

The budget in 1967-1968 was $12,000, and the staff was one secretary. For the next five years, however, the Council sponsored numerous events, published a calendar of events, presented a county-wide festival, and partnered with other organizations to promote the arts.  In 1972, the Council hired its first Executive Director with funds from the Junior League of Tampa and the staff subsequently grew to 15 full-time employees and numerous part-time employees.

Related informationHillsborough County Cultural Plan – Comprehensive publication defines six long-range goals. Recommends actions and funding to develop culture in Hillsborough County.