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Oklahoma Arts Council News

February 2018

Uncertainty Looms as State Legislature Reconvenes

When the state Legislature reconvenes Monday, February 5, legislators will continue working on the fiscal year 2018 budget as they begin working on the fiscal year 2019 budget. We will continue to inform you about the potential implications of any related legislation.

The State of Oklahoma Arts Council Funding

Since fiscal year 2008, the Oklahoma Arts Council's (OAC) state appropriation has been reduced by 46 percent. The inevitable result of steep and sustained reductions is the loss of services that benefit Oklahoma's arts and cultural sector.

Additionally, the uncertainty of the current fiscal year budget, which ends June 30, is adversely impacting Oklahoma Arts Council services. Legislators have not yet approved current year appropriations for most state agencies, including the Oklahoma Arts Council.

To keep members of the arts industry fully informed, below are examples of how budget cuts and budget uncertainties have impacted Oklahoma Arts Council services:

Number of grants reduced from 581 to 408
Communities served reduced from 122 to 71
12 OAC staff members managing responsibilities of 17 full-time positions
Leadership Arts is inactive
Oklahoma's New and Emerging Arts Leaders Network (ONEAL) is inactive
Cultural District Certification is inactive
Performing and Teaching Artist Rosters are inactive
Performing Arts Corps grants (for schools) are inactive
And, more.

Download our 2017 Impact Report to see additional details about the effects of compounding state budget cuts on Oklahoma Arts Council grants and programs.

Arts and Military Summit Offers Potential Resources for Oklahoma

Oklahoma Arts Council Arts Education Director, Jennifer Allen-Barron, made a short drive south of the Red River on January 29 to Killeen, Texas and the Fort Hood Army Base for a special summit focused on arts and the military.

Allen-Barron said the event broadened an important network as she connected with others who are using the arts to serve members of the military community. In addition to learning about unique arts and military programs, Allen-Barron heard from artists and others about their experiences in providing services to military members, and she spoke with several veterans who are active in the arts. She also heard from Second Lady Karen Pence, an artist and supporter of art therapy, who was a special guest speaker at the summit.

Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Texas Arts and Military Summit was a program of the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network.

Allen-Barron heads up the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative for the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Apply for a Challenge America Grant from the NEA

Grants of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts can assist organizations with extending the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to them.

Grants in the Challenge America category generally support projects that are smaller in scale and shorter in duration than projects that receive funding through the NEA's Art Works program. Funding assists with providing access to individuals who may be limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

Supported in this category are only projects that feature a guest artist, the unified promotion of community-wide arts activities, or the development of professionally directed public art projects.

First deadline to apply for Challenge America grants is April 12.

Learn more about Challenge America grants here.

Bids to Be Accepted for Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud Program

Organizations interested in administering the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition will soon have the chance to bid on the program. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud gives thousands of high school students nationwide the opportunity to compete for cash prizes through memorizing and reciting poetry.

Funding for Poetry Out Loud is provided by the NEA via the Oklahoma Arts Council. The organization selected to administer the Oklahoma program will be responsible for outreach to schools, coordination with teachers, and the organization of regional and state-level contests. Additional details about the program are available here.

Look for an email announcement about bids in February. To indicate interest in submitting a bid, send an email to

Members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board will select the partner organization from among submitted bids.

Save America Treasures Grants Offered by Park Service

Since 1999, the federal government's Save America's Treasures grant program has helped organizations nationwide preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections for future generations of Americans.

Through February 21, the National Park Service is accepting applications for the grant program. Nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, units of state or local government, federally-recognized tribes, educational institutions, and other entities are eligible to apply.

Grants ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 will be provided to support preservation and/or conservation work on nationally significant historic collections and properties including artifacts, museum collections, documents, sculptures, and other works of art.

Visit the National Park Service website for guidelines.

Nominate a Student or Educator for Superintendent Arts Excellence Award

Applications for the 2018 State Superintendent Awards for Arts Excellence are now available from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Applications should be completed and postmarked by Wednesday, March 1.

Co-hosted by the Oklahoma Alliance for Arts Education, the awards recognize high school juniors and seniors who have achieved artistic and academic excellence. Awards also recognize school board members, administrators, and fine arts educators who have exhibited leadership in schools.

Nominate a student
Nominate an educator

The 28th annual event to celebrate this year's recipients will be held in Guthrie in April.

Learn more here.

Students Can Enter 'Celebrate the West' Contest

Student artists in 19 western states, including Oklahoma, are invited to submit original artwork for the Western Governors' Association's (WGA) annual "Celebrate the West" high school art competition.

Artwork should be two-dimensional and should be inspired by each artist's home state, using inspiration from state history, landmarks, natural resources, national parks, monuments, people, communities, and culture.

A finalist is selected from each state, earning $200. A grand prize, second place, and third place winners will earn up to $1,000 and will be selected during an upcoming WGA meeting.

View a list of 2017 winners by state.

Kaitlyn Haught from Hooker, Oklahoma, took second place in the 2016 competition. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin invited Haught, her family, and her art teacher to the Capitol where Haught's drawing, "Cutting Horse," was exhibited in the Governor's office.

April 30 is the deadline for students to submit a digital copy of their entry.

Click here for details about the competition or to download an entry form.

Congressional Art Competition Opens Soon for Oklahoma Students

Oklahoma student artists will soon be able to submit artwork for the annual Congressional Art Competition. Guidelines are expected to be released in February.

Each year, the Congressional Institute sponsors the nationwide competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in each congressional district. Since 1982, more than 650,000 students have participated.

Students submit entries to their representative's office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and the winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol.

To view winning works from Oklahoma and other states in the 2017 competition, click here.

Sign up here for email updates on the 2018 competition.

USA Today Network Offering 'A Community Thrives' Grants

Through the A Community Thrives® program, the USA Today Network helps communities be empowered by investment in arts and culture, education, and more.

Through March 15, applications are being accepted for grants that will total $600,000 across the U.S.

To enter, submit your idea for how to positively impact your community through arts and culture or education. A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization must be a partner in the proposed project. Submissions must include a video, your idea or concept, an explanation of how grant funding would help, and more.

For complete entry guidelines, visit the A Community Thrives website.

View examples of last year's winners.