The Cultural Centre started in 1970 as the Culture Unit under the Office of Public Affairs, University of Malaya. In 1975, the Unit was named the Cultural Centre and placed under the Chancellery of the University of Malaya. Since then until 1997, the Cultural Centre was given the responsibility to plan, manage and organize service activities and the promotion of arts and culture to students and staff of the University, within and off campus. The center was administered by a Director assisted by a Deputy Director with a number of cultural officials and several support staff.
The role of Cultural Centre increased in conjunction with the proposal of two (2) academic programmes; the Bachelor of Performing Arts (With Honours) Degree in Drama and Music was approved by the Senate of the University of Malaya in April 1997. Since then, the Cultural Centre has been recognized as a Centre of Responsibility (CoR) offering academic courses.
In the year 2000, the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education approved the proposal for the Cultural Centre to offer a postgraduate programme, the Master of Arts. The programme was divided into two (2) areas of specialization - Performing Arts and Visual Arts. In 2002, the Cultural Centre began offering Doctoral Degrees in various fields.
In 2001, the Public Service Department (JPA) recognized the qualification of Bachelor of Performing Arts (Drama) and Bachelor of Performing Arts (Music) as equivalent to a bachelor's degree from institutions of higher learning for the purpose of appointment to public service.
In 2005, the Ministry of Higher Education approved the proposal for the Cultural Centre to offers a Bachelor Degree of Performing Arts in Dance.
In addition to offering academic programmes, Cultural Centre continues its function to promote the arts and cultural activities within and outside the campus. This function requires Cultural Centre to plan, manage, coordinate and manage activities generated through academic courses and also in assisting the cultural activities of university students.
As of December 2010, the Bachelor of Performing Arts programmes in drama, art, music and dance has reached 467 graduates and a Master of Arts graduates were 42 people, and a Ph.D. graduate.
A large number of graduates of Cultural Centre have been serving in agencies like the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, National Academy of Arts and Heritage, Department of Culture, Arts and Heritage in the State, Ministry of Education, public or private universities, radio and television stations.
There are also graduates who have become small entrepreneurs who produce art products; actors and professional musicians, or private music teachers. There are graduates who pursuing to a higher education degree and have obtained a job as a lecturers in institutions of art of higher learning.
As an organization, Cultural Centre headed by a Director who is assisted by two Deputy Directors for academic affairs and the Senior Cultural Officer for Arts and Development Department. Deputy Director is responsible for administration of academic affairs at the Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels and research matters. Senior Cultural Officer is responsible to manage and operate the service activities and the promotion of arts and culture within and outside the campus.
Each field of academic specialization; drama, music and dance led by a Programme Coordinator who is responsible to the Deputy Director and Director of Cultural Centre. Programme Coordinators are responsible as a head of department in other faculties at the University of Malaya.
The Centre currently offers the following postgraduate programmes:
1. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
2. Master of Performing Arts (Music)
3. Master of Performing Arts (Drama)
4. Master of Performing Arts (Dance)
5. Master of Arts (Visual Arts)