In the spring of 2010, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission recognized that Athens has a reputation as a city of the arts and deserved a dedicated entity to support the arts and local creative culture. The goal was to build upon its artistic reputation and encourage local artists and arts-related businesses to grow into an even more enticing place for economic development and tourism. Community members representing the arts, businesses, and citizenship of Athens were appointed to a Public Art Task Force.

The work of the Task Force resulted in a recommendation to develop a public art ordinance and create a public arts commission. In December of 2010, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission was established in an amendment to the Athens-Clarke County Code of Ordinances (Sec. 1-25).

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