La Quinta Arts Foundation (LQAF), a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, was founded in 1982 by a group of civic leaders, including the newly incorporated city’s first mayor, Fred Wolff, and his wife Kay, “to promote and cultivate the arts.” They envisioned a cultural and artistic center that would spark development and attract residents and visitors.
LQAF’s first initiative was creating an annual arts festival in a village-like setting. The inaugural Celebration of the Arts at the Desert Club Resort in March 1983 featured 50 artists and drew 1,476 patrons. The event evolved into the successful La Quinta Arts Festival and, over almost four decades, tallied $64 million in art sales, supporting the livelihood of thousands of artists and providing scholarships to local college students. Additionally, LQAF produced a variety of arts-driven community building and self-enrichment programs, including exhibitions, competitions, tours, lectures, seminars, concerts, and performances as well as art appreciation instruction in elementary schools.
A 2016 partnership with the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Authority led to the formation of LQAF’s affiliate, the California Desert Arts Council (CDAC). In a short time, CDAC’s charge to unify, empower, and promote the arts in the Coachella Valley has delivered with a robust website, cadesertarts.org, that includes an arts and culture calendar, professional development tools, and comprehensive resources for arts leaders. CDAC informs the community through two monthly e-newsletters and also connects to the community through a variety of outreach programs.