The Northampton Arts Council is a city board and a non-profit organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.


The Northampton Arts Council, the City's official cultural council, was founded in 1980, through enabling legislation passed by the state, with an all-volunteer board whose role was to grant state lottery funds allocated to the City.  Since then, due in part to the character of Northampton with its large concentration of artists, the Northampton Arts Council has become much more varied than simply administering "Arts Lottery" funds.  As one of only a few Arts Councils in Massachusetts to make grants available to artists every spring, we have successfully granted over $300,000 to local artists and arts organizations with locally raised funds via artistic and cultural programming, as well as other culturally vibrant events planned throughout the year.

In 1988-89 the City of Northampton developed the Northampton Cultural Plan.  One of the provisions of this plan was the creation of a City-funded half-time Arts Coordinator position.  Massachusetts Cultural Council funding suffered a major financial setback in the early 90s with a budget drop from $26 million to just $3 million.  The City of Northampton, with its own crisis, zero-funded the Arts Council position.  Faced with becoming an all-volunteer agency, the Arts Council wrote a successful grant to the National Endowment for the Arts for Salary Assistance that provided partial support over the next 3 years for one full-time position, split between two part-time arts co-coordinators.  That's when Arts Council began producing arts events--a big outdoor benefit called Transperformance the end of every August and an eclectic series called Four Sundays in February designed to raise funds for arts enrichment programs in the public schools, funding a second round of artist’s grants in the spring, and securing Arts Council staff.