Originally established by Executive Order of Governor Samuel Goddard in 1966 as the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Codified by Laws 1967, Chapter 132. The name was changed in 1982 to the Arizona Commission on the Arts (Laws 1982, Chapter 193). See A.R.S. Title 41, Chapter 5, Article 6 (A.R.S. § 41-981 et seq).
The Commission’s main purpose is to encourage the presentation and appreciation of the performing and fine arts in Arizona. The Commission provides financial support in the form of grants to help pay arts organizations’ administrative expenses and to help fund arts education and other artistic projects throughout the State. The Commission’s existence also makes Arizona eligible to receive and disburse federal funding for the arts from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA has consistently ranked the Commission as one of the best arts commissions in the country. (Auditor General Report, 2001).
The Commission consists of 15 members, appointed to three-year terms by the Governor.
When Congress created the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965, they also provided funding to all state governments to form state arts commissions and asked them to conduct surveys of each state’s existing facilities, organizations and individuals engaged in the arts. Governor Samuel P. Goddard established the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Humanities as a state council by executive order on January 24, 1966. The Legislature established the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Humanities as a permanent state agency, and Governor Jack Williams signed the bill on March 13, 1967 (Laws 1967, Chapter 132).
The mission of the commission changed when the Arizona Humanities Council was created in 1973 as a result of the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Humanities Council funds and directs programs that promote better understanding of the human condition in four program areas: heritage, books and reading, community dialogue, and teacher education.
The Arts Commission became the official agency of the State of Arizona to stimulate and encourage public interest in cultural resources, performing arts and fine arts. In 1982 the name of the agency was changed to the Arizona Commission on the Arts. The agency has been subject to sunset review several times since it was created and was continued by Legislative action in 1992, 2002 and 2012. In 2012 the continuation legislation also established the Office of the Poet Laureate under the Commission on the Arts (Laws 2012, Chapter 325).