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Oklahoma Arts Council News

November 2017

Conference Attendees Urged to Use Arts as Positive Force in Oklahoma

Nearly 400 individuals involved in the arts across Oklahoma came together October 24-26 in Enid for the 2017 Oklahoma Arts Conference. Enid Mayor Bill Shewey welcomed attendees and was followed by renowned opera singer Leona Mitchell, an Enid native, who helped kick off the event with a performance during the opening general session. Centered on the theme True North, the conference encouraged participants to use the power of the arts to impact areas such as education, healthcare, city planning, veterans' services, and other areas.

"In many ways, this is a time in our state and nation when the arts are needed more than ever," said Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples during her keynote remarks.

Throughout the conference, students from Enid-area arts education programs were given the spotlight to showcase their talents.

Evening receptions, morning coffee networking, preconference workshops, tours, and more were packed in to the two-plus days in Enid. 

New York Foundation for the Arts' (NYFA) Felicity Hogan, longtime arts administrator Jerry Yoshitomi, and Amber Art & Design of Philadelphia's Keir Johnston presented to capacity crowds at their sessions. Rounding out the schedule were Oklahoma panelistswho discussed local arts initiatives.

Photos from the event can be seen on Facebook or Instagram.

"The value we provide to people and communities has not been sufficiently recognized...We need to update our aspirations." – Jerry Yoshitomi, 2017 Oklahoma Arts Conference featured presenter

Mark Your Calendars for 2018!

Oklahoma City was announced as the host of the 2018 Oklahoma Arts Conference. Mark your calendars now for October 24-25 and plan for preconference activities October 23.

Complete the Conference Survey

2017 Oklahoma Arts Conference attendees are encouraged to complete a brief, 10-minute survey about the event to help in shaping next year's event. Click here to take the conference survey.

2018 Leadership Arts Applications Available Soon

Online applications for the Oklahoma Arts Council's 2018 Leadership Arts program will be available soon at

Each year, 30 people from across the state are selected to take part in the program, which focuses on equipping class members with the knowledge and tools to grow the arts in their communities and schools.

The Leadership Arts program consists of four two-day spring sessions that take place in different Oklahoma communities. Class members meet and participate in group exercises, panel discussions, presentations, community tours, and more. There is no fee to participate in the program, however class members are responsible for their food, travel, and lodging.

Applications will be available in early November. Stay tuned for an official announcement.

Click here to read more about how the Leadership Arts program is structured and how you can expect to benefit. See who has participated in Leadership Arts.

'Homeland' Public Art Unveiled

"Homeland," a work of public art honoring Oklahoma veterans, was unveiled October 27 at the newly refurbished Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) office space in Oklahoma City. The commissioning of the piece and the oversight of its installation was managed by the Oklahoma Arts Council.

A work of silkscreened cast glass, "Homeland" was created by artists Judy Gorsuch Collins and Heather Marie Collins. The duo traveled across Oklahoma to gain inspiration for the images and poetry included in the finished piece.

The piece was created as part of the Oklahoma Art in Public Places (OAIPP) program, which requires 1.5 percent of a State of Oklahoma capital project budget be invested in public art for the benefit of the community. In 2015, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation placing the OAIPP program under the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Learn more about the OAIPP program and how it benefits Oklahoma.

NEA Big Read Can Fund Community Reading Programs

Nonprofit organizations, public libraries, school districts, divisions of local and tribal governments, and others can apply now through January 24 for the NEA Big Read, a community-wide reading program made possible through grants of up to $15,000.

Through the program, selected organizations receive funding, training opportunities, digital resources, and outreach materials. Applicants select from a diverse NEA Big Read booklist and organize activities such as author readings, book discussions, art exhibitions, lectures and panel discussions.

A broad range of organizations are eligible, including arts organizations, universities, community service organizations, faith-based organizations, historical societies, museums, and others.

Applications must be submitted by January 24, 2018. The application process is facilitated by Arts Midwest, and applications are available here.

Click here to learn more about the NEA Big Read initiative.

Oklahoma Schools Encouraged to Register for Poetry Out Loud

Through the 2017-18 national Poetry Out Loudcompetition, high schools throughout Oklahoma can give students the chance to memorize and recite great poetry while competing for cash awards and school stipends.

Teachers and administrators are encouraged to register their classes or schools for the program. Winning students from each school advance to regional Oklahoma competitions, with the state winner receiving an expenses-paid trip to compete in the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C. in April.

Schools can easily complete the program in 2-3 weeks. Curriculum materials, lesson plans, a teacher's guide, an online poetry anthology, and more are available on the national Poetry Out Loud website.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies nationwide. Oklahoma's program is administered through a partnership between the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park.

To register, visit the Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park website. Registration closes January 15, 2018. 

Inspirational Teacher Award Nominations

Nominations for The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards are now being accepted. Submit a short written, audio, or video story detailing the role of a teacher who made a difference in your life, and your nominee could receive a $10,000 award for his/her contributions to education.

Teachers of all grade levels and subjects are eligible. Nominators must be at least 18 years of age and must have been the nominee's student.

Applications are due December 31.

Complete guidelines are available here.

Call for Entries for Native American Veterans Memorial

Beginning on Veterans Day 2017, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian will begin accepting submissions for the design of a memorial that will honor Native American servicemen and women. Artists are encouraged to learn more about the opportunity.

On November 11, guidelines will be released for an open, juried competition that will be used to select the winning design for the new National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The permanent memorial is planned for the grounds of the museum, adjacent to the United States Capitol. 

Details about the call for entries will be available here on November 11.

Learn more about the project and how it will honor the contributions of Native Americans to our armed forces throughout our nation's history.

Funding for Artists to Perform Internationally

Grants for ensembles and individual artists to perform internationally are available through the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's USArtists International program.

Up to $15,000 in funding is available for applicants to assist with travel, accommodations, per diem, and artist fees. The funding can benefit eligible performers in dance, music, and theatre.

The USArtists International program encourages cultural exchange and gives artists important connections to presenters, curators, and artists around the world.

Upcoming deadlines for 2018 grants, depending on performance dates, are December 1, 2017 and April 5, 2018.

Visit the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation website for guidelines. Upcoming webinars are available for potential applicants.

Use Humanities Research Grants for the Arts

Through Oklahoma Humanities, researchers can receive funding for projects related to the study of literature and projects related to the history, theory, and criticism of the creative and performing arts. Oklahoma Humanities' Research Grant program makes awards of $500 available to independent scholars and those affiliated with institutions.

Grants are availabile to defray costs that are incurred in carrying out research projects. Costs may include materials, travel, and more.

Deadline for applications is December 15.

Visit the Oklahoma Humanities website for grant guidelines.