The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) was formed in the fall of 1976 by a passionate group of visual artists when the movement to tear down the walls between visual and performing arts was active nationwide. The CAC began as an artist-run, artist-driven community organization in the nearly empty arts district of New Orleans. As the burgeoning arts district grew, so did the CAC, evolving to meet the increasing needs of a diverse audience and artist communities. Renovated in 1990, and donated to the CAC in 1999, the CAC's building mixes the timelessness of New Orleans' historic architecture with contemporary materials and usable open spaces.
Throughout the CAC's 35 years, the center has remained active in the visual and performing arts and arts education communities, continuing to represent an era of creative freedom and multi-disciplinary expression. Today, the CAC is one out of a handful of nationwide arts organizations who have remained solvent and successful while serving a truly multi-disciplinary mission. Currently dedicating two floors, about 10,000 square feet of gallery space, on the 4-story building to rotating exhibitions throughout the year, the CAC is home to artists' bold experiments in painting, theater, photography, performance art, dance, music, video, education, and sculpture.
Since 2006, the CAC has awarded $350,000 in grants to individual New Orleans' artists who were affected by Hurricane Katrina through the CAC Theatre Arts Fund and the SweetArts Katrina Fund. Offering creative outlets and opportunities, the CAC's education department successfully engages over 10,000 children and adults annually, including those with special needs and those from economically deprived backgrounds. The CAC's education and outreach projects offer intimate arts education settings where students, most for the first time, work together with artists, generating a greater impact through more personal, interactive experiences. The CAC's significance and role in the cultural community of New Orleans has and always will be cemented in its broad community-based programs and initiatives.