Since Silliman University’s founding in 1901, a very important part of campus life has been its cultural fare. Every week, there is always a concert, a literary workshop or poetry reading, a play, a dance, an exhibit, a film showing, or some other cultural activity taking place in a number of exhibition halls and performance spaces, such as the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium and Gallery, the Woodward Little Theater, the Guy Hall Music Sala, the Silliman Hall Gallery, the Amphitheater, the Main Library, the Gymnasium, the Audio-Visual Theater, the End House Gallery, the Silliman Church Catacombs, and others. Before the Luce Auditorium’s completion in 1975, Shakespearean plays were regularly presented in the Amphitheater, and prestigious performing companies such as Le Grand Ballet Classique de France and such musical luminaries as pianist Susan Starr have performed in the Gymnasium.
In 1962, the Cultural Affairs Committee [CAC] was formed under the able chairmanship of Prof. Miriam G. Palmore, who was the former director of the School of Music and Fine Arts (now the College of Performing Arts). Among the famous artists and performers in those early years of the Luce Auditorium included the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance Company, Taipei Children’s Choir, French concert pianist Nicole Delannoy, German violinist Denes Zsigmondy, American soprano Julia Finch, Swiss pianist Nicole Wickihalder, Filipina pianist Cecile Licad, American violinist Stanley Plummer, and popular local singers such as Pilita Corrales who was then a singing superstar in Australia. Silliman’s own artists and performers also dominated the cultural landscape, including the Men’s Glee Club under the baton of maestro Albert Faurot, the Silliman Young Singers and the Luce Choral Society under Mrs. Isabel Dimaya Vista, the Silliman Dance Troupe (now the Kahayag Dance Troupe) under Mrs. Lucy Jumawan, the Aldecoa Family Ensemble, and the Portal Players under Mr. Amiel Y. Leonardia.
The CAC, under the leadership of chairpersons including Mrs. Isabel Vista, Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez, Dr. Laurie Raymundo, Ms. Eva Rose Repollo, Prof. Joseph B. Basa, and Prof. Diomar Abrio has continued its mission to bring to Silliman University and the Dumaguete community various cultural representations aimed at exposing them, especially students, to all the arts – with a subsidized fare, perhaps the most generous of its kind in the country, allowing students and the Dumaguete community to see cultural presentations by such national companies as Ballet Philippines, Philippine Educational Theater Association, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Manila, Dulaang U.P., the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Repertory Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, the Bayanihan National Dance Company, the Ramon Obusan National Dance Company, the New Voice Company, and others.
Part of the functions of the Cultural Affairs Committee is also to help promote Philippine culture by especially promoting Filipino artists, and to screen or audition University performing groups who wish to perform outside and inside of the University.
The CAC was renamed the Culture and Arts Council in 2016.