Celebrating 40 Years

Forty years ago, Palm Beach County was called a ‘cultural desert.’ Today, it is home to more than 200 arts and cultural organizations that offer over 42,000 events annually, generate $633 million in economic impact and employ over 14,000 people, thanks, in part to the efforts of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.


“Innovation, to me, is the result of two things. One is a willingness to take risks, and the other is being creative in nature. Forming the Cultural Council has been invaluable. It has allowed a number of our arts organizations to flourish and new ones to form. We have done such a great job that much of the attraction of this area is because of the arts and culture.

Beauty matters because people want to be involved in beautiful things.”

– Alexander W. Dreyfoos


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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 to 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 a 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 to the Council in memory of Robert M. Montgomery, Jr., a philanthropist, former Council chairman and long-time supporter of the arts.


The Council opens its new headquarters in Lake Worth 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 large scale sculpture.


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


2018 Muse Awards - Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

Celebrating 40 years of supporting arts and culture in Palm Beach County.

Thank you for joining us to honor outstanding cultural organizations and individuals at the 2018 Muse Awards on March 22.

Culture & Cocktails

Grab a drink, take your seat and enjoy five evenings of illuminating cultural conversation at The Colony Palm Beach. This year, we celebrated 40 years of culture with:

Alexander Dreyfoos and George Elmore • Jason Newsted • Edward Elson • Michael James • Daniel Biaggi and Beth Clark

Gallery Exhibitions

Explore the galleries of our headquarters at the Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. building in Downtown Lake Worth Beach. This year’s exhibitions include:

  • RaWk, The Art of Jason Newsted
  • Art & Décor
  • Educators and Artists, in partnership with the faculty of Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts

Read the special 40th anniversary issue of the Council’s award-winning art&culture magazine.



The Cultural Council depends on your support to help artists, students and cultural organizations in Palm Beach County.

By making a 100% tax-deductible donation to our Annual Fund, you’re ensuring cultural growth in the community for another 40 years (or more!).

Become a Member

To enjoy all the benefits of our 40th anniversary season, become a member today! You’ll enjoy exhibition previews, a subscription to the award-winning art&culture magazine, discounted access to cultural organizations and more.

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