History of the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County

For 45 years, the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County has worked hard to bring arts & culture to the forefront of our community. Take a look back at our history below—and know that our future starts with you.


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Alexander W. Dreyfoos founds the Palm Beach County Council of the Arts with a goal to create a calendar of local arts events that he could provide prospective employees of his growing electronics company. Judy Goodman serves as founding executive director.


Publishes the Community Needs for Facilities survey, which reveals that a performing arts center was a high priority for the county. The survey helped initiate fundraising campaign for the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, which opened its doors in 1992.


The Council’s efforts lead to voter approval of the Tourist Development Tax Campaign for the Arts, which has since provided nearly $100 million in funding for arts and culture from bed tax revenue. Will Ray is hired as president and CEO and serves in this role for 22 years.


The Council works with the City of West Palm Beach to save the old Art Deco armory from demolition and helps establish a cultural institution, the Armory Art Center, that serves art students and teachers.


Under Board Chairman, George T. Elmore, the organization changes its name to the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.


The Council recognizes the national trend to cut back on arts education in schools and commissions a countywide study that leads to the creation of the nonprofit Center for Creative Education, an organization that focuses on integrating art into classroom curricula.


The Council establishes grants to artists, funded by proceeds from Florida’s State of the Arts license tag.


Under Chairwoman Catherine Lowe a new grant program is established for multicultural and children’s programs funded by Palm Beach County ad valorem revenue.


The Tourist Development Council and the Cultural Council initiate a new program to market Palm Beach County as a cultural tourism destination.


The Council plays a key role in the passage of a $50 million bond issue for cultural and recreational facilities. Old School Square’s Crest Theatre, Johnson History Museum, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, and the Center for Creative Education were renovated in part with bond revenues.


Rena Blades hired as President and CEO and serves in this role for nearly 14 years.


Introduces award-winning art&culture magazine. Establishes Muse Awards event to recognize cultural excellence in the community.


The Montgomery Family donates building in downtown Lake Worth Beach to the Council in memory of Robert M. Montgomery, Jr., a philanthropist, former Council chairman and long-time supporter of the arts.


Name changed to Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, with new logo highlighting the Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. building.


The Council opens its new headquarters in Lake Worth Beach as a resource to local artists, visitors and the community. The building features exhibition and meeting space, the Roe Green Uniquely Palm Beach Store featuring work by Palm Beach County artists and the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Information Center.


New privately-funded grant programs launch, including the Korman Cultural Expedition Fund to send children on field trips to experience art and culture for the first time.


Bed tax collections increase by 1%, providing an additional $1 million annually to fund cultural tourism marketing programs.


Cultural Concierge program launches to connect cultural activities to tourists in a personal way. Introduces new music program to add live performances at the Council’s headquarters and connect local musicians to venues and other paid opportunities.


The Council welcomes school children into the building with special programming, installs 100th exhibition, and opens first phase of Project Space, designed to showcase outdoor musical events and largescale sculpture.


Celebrates 40 years with special exhibitions and events to mark the occasion.


Dave Lawrence starts in his role as President & CEO of the organization.


Launches the Institute for Cultural Advancement, the signature professional development for artists and organizations.


Major rebrand introduced with new name (Cultural Council for Palm Beach County) and renewed focus on the sector.


Artist Innovation Fellowship program launched in support of creative professionals.


Artist Relief Fund and Palm Beach County Resiliency Fund created in response to COVID-19 pandemic.


First-ever Arts & Tourism Summit on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion co-hosted by the Cultural Council and Discover The Palm Beaches.