Although established by ordinance in 1989, the Office of Cultural Affairs has its origins in the City Arts Program, which was established in 1976 as a division of the Dallas Parks & Recreation Department. The purpose of the City Arts Program was to coordinate details of existing cultural programs and increase opportunities for cultural activities in Dallas.
In 1989, City Council, by ordinance, created the Office of Cultural Affairs within the City Manager’s Office and established a Director of Cultural Affairs to oversee the operations of this department. Many of the functions of the City Arts Program were transferred to the new Office of Cultural Affairs, which no longer reports to the Parks and Recreation Department. In 1989 the City Council also authorized, by ordinance, the establishment of an advisory board, the Cultural Affairs Commission, to be appointed by Mayor and Council.
Today, the Office of Cultural Affairs operates a budget of over $20 million, has oversight of 18 cultural facilities, and employs over 70 people dedicated to advancing the arts in Dallas and ensuring that all citizens and visitors have access to a broad array of arts and cultural opportunities.