Welcome to the Memphis Arts Council

The Memphis Arts Council was established in 1963 to foster and improve the artistic and cultural quality of the community. The Arts Council administers the annual Fund for the Arts, the 10th largest in the United States, raising more than $3 million annually to support 20 local arts groups and more than 40 special art projects in this region.

The Arts Council also administers Center for Arts Education programs, which bring the arts to more than 100,000 children every year in Memphis City, County, and independent schools through artists’ classroom residencies, subsidized tickets for live performances, training for teachers in arts-based learning, after-school arts programming, and a Family Arts Series.

The Arts Council encourages the development of public art-works of art and design elements in public buildings and outdoor spaces-through a partnership with the UrbanArt Commission.

South Main Memphis Arts District

The South Main Arts District offers Memphis galleries that represent local, regional, national and international artists. The galleries offer works on canvas, as well as three-dimensional works that range in scale to fit the needs of any residential or commercial space. The galleries are varied in mediums and styles, but the quality of the work in every gallery reminds many collectors of galleries in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

South Main Memphis Arts District

Arts Groups

The Memphis Arts Council enjoys working relationships with many different types of organizations that help support the arts within our community. There are two formal association categories that have a direct ongoing connection to the Memphis Arts Council as follows:

Funded Groups

Arts organizations which meet all requirements as outlined in the Memphis Arts Council by-laws and receive underwriting for their operational budgets. The Arts Council provides operating support to 20 local arts organizations. Click here for a complete list of funded groups.

Affiliated Groups

Arts organizations which belong to the Council for information exchange, coordination of events, and advocacy of the arts. More than 30 local arts organizations are currently listed in this category. Click here for a complete list.

For more information, check our association policy. An application is available online should you wish to become an affiliate. Click here to download or print out the form.

UrbanArt Commission

The UrbanArt Commission was established in 1997 through the collaborative efforts of the Greater Memphis Arts Council and Shelby County government to enhance and elevate the quality of life in Memphis and Shelby County by promoting and facilitating public art and urban design.

The UrbanArt Commission is a private, non-profit organization funded through grants from Shelby County, the City of Memphis, the Memphis Arts Council, the Hyde Foundation, the Plough Foundation, the Assisi Foundation, and Storage, USA.

The UrbanArt Commission consists of a diverse group of community leaders, art collectors, and administrators, philanthropists, developers, architects, visual and performing artists, and city and county representatives. The Commission advises staff of three, who oversee over $3 million in public art projects.

Center for Arts Education

Join Us At The Summer Aesthetic Education Institute. This year’s program is: Double Take! Looking Again at Art and Learning. A registration form is available for you to print out and mail in. Sign up now! Click here for more info!

What is the CAE?

Established in 1983, the mission of the Center for Arts Education is to enhance lives by promoting life-long learning in and through the arts. Our beliefs are as follows:

  • Art is central to life and life-long learning, and it should be nurtured in all its forms and expressions.
  • Learning is an active process.
  • Aesthetic education can transform lives
  • Quality should be both expected and nurtured.
  • Greater effectiveness results from committed collaborations.
  • Everyone should be treated with respect.
  • Breaking down barriers is key to building a community.

Our programs

  • Aesthetic Education Institute
  • Residencies
  • Summer Programs
  • Focus Schools
  • Project Soar
  • Senior Program
  • Ticket Subsidy
  • Early Learning

Summer Program – Aesthetic Education Institute

Every year, more than 400 families from diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds attend the Family Arts Series performances and exhibits offered on Sunday afternoons.

Each event begins with an introductory activity led by a teaching artist and is followed by a culinary experience that relates to the particular art experience. Families prepare for, respond to, and reflect upon the art form together.

Memphis City Schools

  • Alton Elementary
  • Brookemeade Elementary
  • Bruce Elementary
  • Frayser Elementary
  • J.P. Freeman
  • Georgian Hills Elementary
  • Grahamwood Elementary
  • Kingsbury Elementary
  • Locke Elementary
  • Macon Elementary
  • Shrine School
  • South Park Elementary
  • Wells Station Elementary
  • Willow Oaks Elementary
  • Whitney Elementary

West Memphis, Arkansas Schools

  • Bragg Elementary

What is the Arts Council?

The role of a council could provide leadership in mobilizing cooperation and involvement from various groups and citizens in order to grow the local art economy, thereby creating jobs and increasing income levels. Efforts will focus on capitalizing and enhancing the efforts of existing arts & cultural initiatives by facilitating collaborative marketing and service efforts; securing funding to support economic development within the creative economy attracting business and tourism to the proposed cultural district.

A countywide representation was determined important in building a creative economy, pulling artists and an audience from outside the district, and naming the council Arts Council. The first order of business was to concentrate on a strategic plan to find funding resources.

The first phase of this plan is to define our demographics- what and who is out of their offering art and appreciating art. This planning process will involve citizens, local organizations, and businesses who are interested and/or already committed to enriching the community through promoting creativity, entrepreneurship, and arts & culture. The “creative economy” initiatives will touch a wide range of profit and non-profit organizations including individual artists, musicians, web design memphis, shops, technology companies, libraries, composers, musicians, performing arts venues, festivals/events, agricultural markets, education, artisan manufacturing, graphic design, etc.

Eight-member Arts Council Board was established to coordinate involvement from various local sectors. The first priority is to involve local artists and art audiences and gather information about the artists in our area by asking them to join an art directory.