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Oklahoma Arts Council News

January 2019

Notice About the Federal Government Shutdown

All eligible organizations planning on applying for Oklahoma Arts Council grant funding are encouraged to proceed with their submissions despite the federal government shutdown. Grantee organizations that will be impacted by the shutdown have been or will be directly contacted by the Oklahoma Arts Council. Should you have related questions, please contact our Grants Director.

An Inspired Outlook for the Arts in Oklahoma in 2019

By Amber Sharples, Executive Director

Over the past few weeks, my staff and I have been privileged to support Governor-elect Kevin Stitt and his team in their preparations for the January 14 inaugural event at the Oklahoma State Capitol. As that event nears, we are reminded that in February, members of the Oklahoma State Legislature—many of whom are new legislators—will convene for the 2019 legislative session.

With so much change occurring, the coming months will give state leaders an opportunity to set a hopeful tone and firm foundation for the direction of our state. To aid in this, the arts offer unparalleled tools of transformation and solutions to tackling our state's greatest challenges. As the Oklahoma Arts Council is uniquely positioned as a state agency to lead in the support and development of the arts, we will be working to equip policymakers with vital resources from the creative sector. From our efforts to strengthen arts education policy, to our work with cultural districts statewide, to our Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative, the services of the Oklahoma Arts Council are essential to a brighter future for our state.

As 2019 gets underway, I hope you will share our upbeat outlook for the arts and for Oklahoma, letting it inspire your work in this new year!

Oklahoma Arts Council Seeks Executive/Finance Assistant

The Oklahoma Arts Council is seeking an experienced candidate to fill the position of Executive/Finance Assistant. This position not only assists with the day-to-day needs of the executive director, it also supports the agency's financial administration.

The Oklahoma Arts Council strives to build a diverse team comprised of the best and brightest individuals to support the agency's mission of leading the advancement of Oklahoma's thriving arts industry.

For a full job description and application instructions, visit the Oklahoma Arts Council jobs page.

Report Details Inequalities in Oklahoma Fine Arts Education

A new report published by the Oklahoma Policy Institute highlights the ways in which fine arts education is not equitably available to students across Oklahoma. In her December 2018 article about the report, author Rebecca Fine noted that budgets for fine arts education have been hit especially hard during recent years of reduced education funding in Oklahoma. Cuts come amid growing school enrollment.

Among the statistics cited in the report:

  • In the 2017-2018 school year, Oklahoma had 1,110 fewer art and music classes than four years prior.
  • 28 percent of all Oklahoma public school students had no access to fine arts classes. Approximately 18,000 Oklahoma students have no arts education access.
  • Disparaties in the availability of fine arts courses are evident along income and geographic lines. Schools in southeast Oklahoma offer the fewest number of courses, while rural schools in general have fewer opportunities to partner with community organizations that can help provide arts education.

View the report on fine arts education inequalities in Oklahoma.

Read a related article in The Journal Record.

Nominate Students, Educators for Arts Excellence Awards

Applications for the 2019 State Superintendent Awards for Arts Excellence are now available from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Applications are due March 1, 2019.

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 and supported quality arts education in Oklahoma.

The 29th annual awards ceremony to honor recipients will be held April 23, 2019 in Guthrie.

Funding for Programs Serving Middle School Students

The New York Life Foundation is currently accepting applications for its Aim High grant program from 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serve middle school youth. The program includes both one- and two-year grant opportunities. The goal of the Aim High program is to strengthen the ability of afterschool and summer learning programs to help middle school students transition from 8th to 9th grade. Applicants must serve a high percentage of low-income youth.

The two-year grants may be used for technical assistance, capacity building, enhancing direct service activities, and/or program expansion.

The one-year grants are specifically intended to provide additional professional development opportunities to nonprofit staff members.

Deadline to apply is January 25, 2019.

Go here for more information.

The Kerr Foundation Offers Grants for Arts

The Oklahoma-based Kerr Foundation, a nonprofit charitable and educational corporation, supports 501(c)(3) organizations whose programs relate to education, health, arts and culture, and human services.

Funding can be requested for use with capital projects (brick and mortar), programs with a specified time span, and operating expenses. Favorable consideration is given to proposals that will secure matching funds.

Letters of inquiry may be submitted by eligible organizations interested in applying for grant funding through the foundation.

The deadline for grants to be considered at the foundation's board meeting in March is January 18, 2019.

Learn more about grants from The Kerr Foundation at

African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Grants

African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation offer support for select activities at museums and other eligible sites.

Grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 can fund capital projects, organizational capacity building, project planning, and programming and interpretation. All projects must focus on African American cultural heritage. Public agencies, 501(c)(3), and other nonprofit organizations are eligible.

Letters of intent are due January 15, with applications due in May.

Learn more about the program here.

Kansas Indigenous Arts Initiative Accepting Applications

Through a partnership between the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the University of Kansas, a new initiative will give emerging Indigenous artists the opportunity to participate in a two-week residency this spring.

The Indigenous Arts Initiative will provide selected artists with opportunities to expand their professional networks, hone their creative skills, and gain leadership experience through collaborative, mentorship-based programming. The lab-based residency will allow selected artists to work alongside Oklahoma filmmaker Sterlin Harjo and visual artist Steven Grounds to creative socially engaged works of art. Master classes, workshops, and roundtable discussions will be included. Artists will be provided a stipend and will receive 14 nights of free lodging in Lawrence, Kansas.

Applications are due January 14. Click here to apply.

Incoming and Returning 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowships Announced

The Tulsa Artist Fellowship has announced the names of 27 artists awarded with year-long fellowships for 2019. Additionally, three current fellows have been selected to receive Arts Integration Awards, a new opportunity that will deepen the community engagement efforts of selected artists.

Each artist selected for a year-long fellowship receives a $20,000 stipend and fully subsidized living and work space in Tulsa. With the newly announced fellows joining artists who are returning for second- and third-year fellowship seats, a total of 59 Tulsa Artist Fellows are now involved in the program.

Over 700 applicants from 42 states applied for 2019 fellowships. The program supports both local and national artists while enriching the Tulsa community.

Applications for 2020 will be available soon for visual and literary artists. Visit for more information.

New Program to Support Jazz Artists Nationwide

A recently announced sizable investment by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is intended to invigorate the field of jazz across America. The $3.5 million investment by the foundation through funding to South Arts will expand opportunities for jazz artists to tour to a wide range of communities. When launched, the program, Jazz Road, will be the nation's most extensive jazz touring support system. It will include long-term collaborative efforts among the nation's six regional arts organizations, including the Mid-America Arts Alliance, which serves Oklahoma.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation program director Maurine Knighton cited a lack of national support mechanisms for the tradition of jazz music—often called "America's classical music"—as a serious challenge to the field.

Oklahoma jazz artists are encouraged to follow developments related to the project. Read the announcement here.

More information about the Jazz Road project is available at

NEA Announces New Logo

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the release of a new logo. Oklahoma organizations that receive funding from the Endowment and/or the Oklahoma Arts Council are advised to download the new logo and review the guidelines for usage.

Download the new National Endowment for the Arts logo here. Several formats and versions of the logo area available.

Be sure to revisit the terms and conditions regarding acknowledging the NEA's support.

Oklahoma Arts Council Announces New Grants Director

Having served as Oklahoma Arts Council Grants and Finance Assistant since 2016, Thomas Tran has been named the agency's new Grants Director. Tran began his service with the Oklahoma Arts Council as an intern in the communications department before being hired full-time to work in the grants department. In his new role as Grants Director, Tran works with organizations across the state as they apply for Oklahoma Arts Council grant funding for art programs that take place in community- and school-based settings.

Tran is a graduate of Oklahoma State University (OSU), where he earned his Bachelor of Music. During his time at OSU, he helped promote access to music education in small and rural communities as Director of Stillwater Arts Outreach. Tran also previously worked for the Pioneer Library System.

To contact Thomas Tran with grants-related questions, email him at or call him at (405) 521-2040.