The State Arts Council was established in 1965 as the official state arts agency with legislation (RSA 19-A) designed "to insure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experience of our citizens." The NHSCA is advised by a 15-member that meets at least four times a year. Councilors are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Executive Council.
Funding for competitive grants and program services to benefit New Hampshire's citizens is made possible through appropriations from the New Hampshire State Legislature and from a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The State of New Hampshire also accepts private, tax-deductible donations and bequests that may be designated for the sole purpose of helping the Arts Council fulfill its enabling legislation.
The NHSCA carries out its mission based upon a strategic plan developed through public input. The plan is reviewed and revised periodically to insure that the agency is responsive to changing economic, social, and cultural circumstances.