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Painting the Picture of 50 years

A Short History of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

In December 1963, in response to a call by the Florida Department of Education’s music consultant, over 200 delegates from 42 statewide organizations, 24 community colleges and the Division of Community Junior Colleges established "a cooperative council to coordinate and promote the arts in Florida." This was the catalyst for the State to officially establish the Division of Cultural Affairs under the Secretary of State in 1969 and to designate the Fine Arts Council of Florida as a 15 member advisory body. The purpose of the Fine Arts Council was to assist the division with Photo of Beverly Dozier, first Director of the Division of Cultural Affairsprojects and advise the Secretary of State on cultural issues. The division's first Director was Beverly Dozier. The division assumed support functions for the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Stephen Foster Memorial and all historical commissions and preservation boards.  Historical commissions and preservation boards were later transferred to the Division of Historical Resources.

By 1976, the Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA) was given authority pursuant to Chapter 265, Florida Statutes, to accept and administer state and federal appropriations for fine arts grants relying on recommendations from the Council.  The initial state appropriation for the arts grant program was $400,000 in 1977-78.  It was also in this fiscal year that Florida received its first National Endowment for the Arts State Partnership Award. 

In 1980, the Fine Arts Council of Florida was renamed as the Florida Arts Council by the Fine Arts Act of 1980. DCA provided funding for grant programs such as general program support and special projects during the 80s with new programs created.  The Florida Fine Arts Endowment Program was created in 1985 offering qualifying fine arts sponsoring organizations an opportunity to participate in a $600,000 matching fund endowment program. The newly-established Florida Artists Hall of Fame honoring those who have made a significant contributions to the arts in Florida joined DCA's programming in 1986. In 1987, the Cultural Facilities Grants Program was strengthened giving DCA administrative oversight in the selection and management of construction and renovation projects. Photo of member os the Florida Fine Arts Council and Division staff, early 1990sThe 1990s and 2000s saw further milestones. In 1995, the State Touring Program, designed to bring Florida artists into public schools, was mandated by the Legislature to focus on counties with small populations. In that same year, the State Touring Program celebrated reaching all 67 Florida counties through the years. Grant panel meetings transitioned to teleconference, saving thousands of dollars each year. DCA's grant panel meetings have become a model for other state arts agencies because of their transparency and opportunities for applicant input and public comment. In 2009, DCA became one of the first state arts agencies to move its grant application process online. Tallahassee's historic Brokaw-McDougall House became DCA's home in 2012.

Photo of the Brokaw-McDougall House, current home of the Division of Cultural Affairs

In the most recent decade of its 50-year history, the DCA has provided professional development to hundreds of artists across the state, helping them learn to turn their art practices into healthy businesses. Embracing its ability to convene the arts and cultural community, DCA held statewide cultural conferences to encourage collaboration and development among its constituents. When DCA partnered with Americans for the Arts to examine the financial impact of arts and culture, the study found that Florida’s arts and cultural industry has a $1.6 billion dollar influence on the state’s economy.

The accomplishments over the past 5 decades are just the beginning of the story. Determined to continue to embrace and spearhead innovation as it creates a new strategic plan to launch in 2020, the Division of Cultural Affairs looks forward to encouraging new and exciting ways to bring the transformative power of arts and culture into the lives of every Floridian.