The Alabama State Council on the Arts, established by the legislature in 1966, provides aid to local nonprofit arts organizations; there were 62 local arts councils in 2003. The Alabama Humanities Foundation was established in 1974. In 2000, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded grants totaling $759,034 to 15 Alabama organizations. In 2003, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded grants totaling $871,400 to Alabama arts organizations. The grants supported the efforts of about 125,000 artists and more than 400 arts associations.
A community arts development and residency program is financed by a state income tax check-off and private contributions. The Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, established in 1990, works in conjunction with the State Council to promote and preserve local arts and culture. The Alabama Jazz and Blues Federation, also established in 1990, has been very active in offering monthly jam sessions for artists, an annual summer festival, and several concerts throughout the year.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival State Theater performs in Montgomery. Over one million people have attended the festival. The Birmingham Festival of Arts was founded in 1951 and the city's Alabama School of Fine Arts has been state-supported since 1971. Huntsville, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa have symphony orchestras.
Sacred Harp a cappella "sings" of old hymn tunes are held regularly. The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention takes place in October at Athens State College. Every June, the annual Hank Williams Memorial Celebration is held near the country singer's birthplace at the Olive West Community. There are opera groups in Huntsville and Mobile.