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Oklahoma Arts Council News

August 2019

Changes Announced for Governor's Arts Awards, Conference

Two Oklahoma Arts Council programs are changing as the agency adjusts to a new reality in state arts funding resulting from state budget cuts in recent years. The Governor's Arts Awards and the Oklahoma Arts Conference will now be offered in two-year cycles. Previously annual events, the programs are being changed to allow for realignment of staff workload and to empower the Oklahoma Arts Council to invest more time and resources serving Oklahomans in their communities. The Oklahoma Arts Council remains committed to both programs.

The next Governor's Arts Awards will take place in the spring of 2021. Nominations will be accepted beginning in summer 2020.

The next Oklahoma Arts Conference will take place in the fall of 2020.

See the full announcement about these program changes.

Learn what's ahead for the Oklahoma Arts Council in this letter from Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples.

Apply for Classroom Supply Grants September 1

Applications open September 1 for the Oklahoma Arts Council's new grant program to help educators purchase supplies for their visual and performing arts classrooms. From September 1 through November 1, eligible schools statewide can apply for up to $500 in funding for qualifying materials through Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts.

The new grant program is being offered in response to feedback from teachers, administrators, and education leaders across Oklahoma. Hundreds of responses to Oklahoma Arts Council surveys showed art supplies among schools' greatest needs for providing sustained, high-quality arts education.

Supply expenses that can be covered through the funding include sheet music, props, instrument rental, drawing and painting materials, clay, and other consumable art supplies. See a list of eligible supplies.

Schools must have at least one part-time arts instructor in the discipline for which they apply.

Find out how to apply for the grant.

Classroom Enhancement Grants for Rural Counties

Schools in eligible rural Oklahoma counties can apply for Classroom Enhancement Grants through the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation. The program is designed to enhance and enrich learning opportunities for students in rural areas.

Projects focused on the arts and humanities and more are eligible for up to $5,000. Projects should be integrated into academic curriculum with the goal of expanding student understanding in a specific area. Grants are awarded to pre-K through 12th grade classrooms.

Schools interested in applying must submit a one-paragraph description of their project by September 6.

Recent arts-related grants include:

  • Will Rogers Elementary (Washita County) - $1,500 for cordless microphones for the drama/theatre department.

  • Watts Elementary (Adair County) - $1,428 to enrich arts learning opportunities through field trips and art supplies.

Review a list of eligible counties here.

View grant guidelines here.

Oklahoma Artist Receives Interchange Fellowship Grant

Tulsa artist Crystal Z. Campbell is one of 16 artists from across a six state region selected for the inaugural Interchange Artist Grant program. Through the program, Campbell will receive $20,000 in funding for a project focused on social impact. She will also receive mentoring and opportunities for participation in professional development retreats.

Campbell's project, "Slick," will include a series of videos, live performances, workshops, and more exploring relationships between Tulsa's former Black Wall Street district, Oklahoma's remaining historically all-black towns, and oil. The project will involve historical archives and fictionalized narratives.

The Interchange Artist Grant is a program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA). The program aims to strengthen communities by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact. Artists selected for the program reside in the six-state M-AAA region.

Learn more about the program.

2020 Tulsa Artist Fellowship Applications Open

An unrestricted $20,000 award, free housing, and free studio space are available to artists through the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Each year, a diverse class of contemporary artists from across the country is chosen to participate in the program.

Selected artists live and work in the Tulsa Arts District, an Oklahoma Arts Council Certified Cultural District, surrounded by galleries, performance venues, museums, green space, and more. Artist engagement with the surrounding community is a focus of the program.

Artists ages 21 and older at all stages of their careers are eligible to apply. The program prioritizes a reserved number of fellowships for Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian artists. Applicants may include artists working in multiple disciplines, collaboratives, curators, publishers, and community organizers.

View application and program guidelines here.

Current fellows include newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo of Tulsa.

Deadline to apply is September 6.

Arts Educator a Finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

Edmond North High School visual arts teacher Cara Bowerman has been named a finalist for 2020 Teacher of the Year. She is one of 12 finalists from across the state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister introduced Bowerman and the other finalists during a ceremony on July 23.

An educator for six years, all at Edmond North, Bowerman teaches painting, drawing, design, and 3D sculpture. She was the 2018-2019 Edmond Teacher of the Year.

The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year is a one-year commitment that includes speaking engagements throughout the state and service as Oklahoma's teacher ambassador.

See Superintendent Hofmeister's announcement about the finalists.

Tulsa Selected for Southern Exposure Program

Tours by some of Latin America's top performing artists will include Tulsa, thanks to a grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. OK Roots Music, a nonprofit presenting organization in Tulsa was among the grantees announced for the Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America program.

Southern Exposure is a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The program brings contemporary and traditional performing arts from Latin America to audiences across the United States. Through the program, fee support is provided to presenters who book artists on a curated roster.

Tulsa performances will take place in October and will feature Fidel Nadal (Argentina) and Sofia Viola (Argentina).

First Peoples Fund Fellowship Applications Due

First Peoples Fund currently has two fellowship programs open for applications. Artists in Business Leadership and Cultural Capital fellowships are one-year programs offering $5,000 in project grants, technical support, and professional training. Applicants must be enrolled members of a U.S. federally recognized tribe, a state recognized tribe, or an Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian.

The Artist in Business Leadership program offers support for artists at all stages of their entrepreneurial careers to pursue arts business development goal.

The Cultural Capital program is designed to help artists and culture bearers pass along cultural practices within their tribal communities.

Visit to learn more about the fellowships.

Submission deadline for both fellowship programs is August 31.

Oklahoma City Museum Selected for Kress Foundation Grant

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is reportedly the first institution in the state selected to receive a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to support a one-year provenance research fellowship. Through the funding, the museum will host a graduate of Boston University with a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture who will perform research to help the museum evaluate its permanent collection, institutional history, and vision for the future.

The museum's interim president said the assessment comes as the museum prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2020. The fellowship begins September 9, and a full report will be publicized next year.

Learn more about Kress Foundation grants here.

Read the announcement on

Oklahoma Student Named a 2019 National Youth Poet

Julie Dawkins of Deer Creek High School in Edmond has been named one of five National Student Poets by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The recognition is considered the country's highest honor for young poets in grades 10-11 presenting original work.

In her role as a National Student Poet, Dawkins will serve for one year as a literary ambassador representing the southwest United States. Throughout the year, Dawkins will participate in service projects, workshops, and public readings. Designed to promote the role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success, the program connects National Student Poets with audiences and community resources such museums, libraries, and other institutions.

An alumna of the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, Dawkins was selected as a National Student Poet from among thousands of students nationwide. Selections are based on originality, technical skills, and personal voice.

Read the announcement here.

See Dawkins' bio and read one of her poems.

Eyakem Gulilat to Guide OAC Cultural Development

Twelve years after Eyakem Gulilat moved here for graduate school, Oklahoma has been his home longer than anywhere else. It was through the arts that Gulilat found community and connection in his new home state. Now, as the Oklahoma Arts Council's new Cultural Development Director, Gulilat wants to help others experience community through the arts.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Master of Fine Arts emphasizing photography, Gulilat is currently working toward his Ph.D. in Architecture with a focus on regional and city planning. A placemaking conference at OU helped Gulilat realize the connection between placemaking and art, leading to his Ph.D. pursuit beginning in 2015.

For his Ph.D., Gulilat is examining the role that space plays in communities.

"Space separates us from one another, but if my house catches fire, my neighbor is affected," Gulilat explained. "As artists, we create space for interaction. I don't think artists know how much of a role they play in creating spaces in society."

Among Gulilat's goals in his new position, he aims to help communities find empowerment through art. Gulilat will focus on areas where people feel they don't have leverage in the arts. He is most excited about the potential to connect with communities across Oklahoma in the most inclusive way. Gulilat believes that all communities—rural, Latinx, Native American, African American—create art that is worthy of being supported, and he wants to find ways to help those communities expand their work.

Before applying for the Cultural Development Director, Gulilat saw the position description. It emphasized the Oklahoma Arts Council's renewed focus on serving under-resourced and under-represented communities. He immediately saw himself in the description.

"It was a mirror," Gulilat said.

More about Eyakem:

  • Born in Ethiopia and raised in Kenya

  • Immigrated with his parents to Austin, Texas

  • Was studying engineering in college when a photography class changed his plans

  • Moved to Oklahoma in 2007 for graduate school 

  • Participated in a six-month residency at ahha Tulsa in 2012

  • His photography was exhibited at the Oklahoma State Capitol in 2014

Cultural development assistance:

If you have questions or would like assistance related to cultural development, please contact Eyakem Gulilat at (405) 521-2028 or


A new Oklahoma Arts Council grant program will help Oklahoma teachers buy supplies for their visual and performing arts classrooms. Beginning September 1, eligible schools statewide can apply for up to $500 in funding for qualifying materials through Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts