The story of Arts Central is the story of a grassroots organization. In 1975, a group of Central Oregonians felt the need for a united effort to support the arts in the region and formed the Central Oregon Arts Society, which received its nonprofit status in 1976. In the beginning, they met monthly in alternating locations in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, with each meeting featuring an educational art program. Their purpose was to be an arts voice for their 100 plus members, other arts groups, and the public.
They also served as a communications agent between the Oregon Arts Commission and the local community. From the start their interests encompassed and supported visual, literary and performing arts. The volunteer group published a monthly newsletter, produced a regional arts directory and provided the chambers of commerce with listings of area arts organizations.