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Oklahoma Arts Council News

June 2019

State Increases Investment in Arts

The state's investment in the arts through the Oklahoma Arts Council is increasing by 4 percent for fiscal year 2020. On May 24, Governor Stitt signed the next state budget bill into law, bringing the Oklahoma Arts Council's state appropriation to $2,912,351. The budget goes into effect July 1, 2019. 

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples commented on the increase.

"We appreciate Governor Stitt and members of the state Legislature for recognizing the valuable role of the arts in Oklahoma," Sharples said. "Cuts in our state appropriation over the past decade have taken a toll on our programs and services. With this increase, we hope to be back on track toward investing in Oklahomans in new and innovative ways through the arts."

Read more about the fiscal year 2020 state budget.

New Oklahoma Arts Disaster Resource Page

The Oklahoma Arts Council has launched a new webpage with helpful information for artists and arts organizations affected by this spring's inclement weather.

The Oklahoma Arts Disaster Resource Page features a mix of resources from national and local entities designed to help members of the state arts industry preserve their assets or recover their livelihoods following emergencies. The page links to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), Oklahoma Museums Association's Disaster Response Network, the National Coalition for Arts' Preparedness & Emergency Response, MusiCares, and other resources offering grants, toolkits, and more.

In addition, Oklahoma Arts Council staff members are available to help Oklahomans in the arts access the resources they need to response to weather-related or other disasters.

Visit the Oklahoma Arts Disaster Resource Page.

Contact the Oklahoma Arts Council about your disaster-related need.

Leadership Arts Alumni Survey

Graduates of the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts program are urged to complete a survey that will help our agency prepare for the future of the program.

Regardless of current job or residency status, alumni from all ten Leadership Arts classes are encouraged to take the survey. The survey is a comprehensive evaluation of participants' experience in Leadership Arts.

Feedback from Leadership Arts alumni will be used to ensure that the program is relevant, accessible, and sustainable as we move forward.

Take the Leadership Arts Alumni Survey.

Oklahoma Organizations Awarded NEA Grants

The latest round of National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant investments in Oklahoma will total $783,650. Announced May 15, the funding will benefit four organizations, including the Oklahoma Arts Council as the state NEA partner.

Grants include:

  • Cherokee Nation ($10,000) - an Art Works grant will support weekly art sessions for Cherokee Nation foster children. The program aims to use traditional Native arts to strengthen sense of identity. (Read the NEA blog about the program).

  • Oklahoma Arts Council ($753,650) - the state partnership grant supports arts programs, services, and activities associated with carrying out the agency's NEA-approved strategic plan.

  • Oklahoma State University Museum of Art ($10,000) - an Art Works grant will support the exhibition "The State We're In: Water."

  • Tulsa Opera ($10,000) - an Art Works grant will support Tulsa Opera's "Raise Your Voice!" youth education program.

RELATED: Deadlines are approaching for applications in the NEA's Our Town (August 8) and Research: Art Works (October 9) categories.

New Grant Program for Jazz Artist Tours

Emerging and mid-career Oklahoma jazz artists can apply for a new grant program that will bring live jazz to areas underserved by the genre. Through Jazz Road Tours, funding will support tours of three to six sites. Solo and ensembles of up to 10 members are eligible.

Grant awards will range from $5,000 to $15,000. Eligible expenses will include performance fees, travel, lodging, and meals, among other items.

The first deadline for applications is August 1. Rolling deadlines will be offered through June 2022.

Jazz Road is a new initiative led by South Arts in collaboration with the six U.S. regional arts organizations. The goal is to improve work opportunities for jazz artists and strengthen relationships between jazz musicians, presenters, and communities.

RELATED: Residency grants will be announced soon through the initiative.

View Jazz Road Tours guidelines.

CIRD Can Aid Rural Oklahoma Placemaking Efforts

The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is currently accepting applications for its 2019 program. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), CIRD provides funding, training, and design workshops for towns with populations of 50,000 or less. Bringing together local residents and community leaders, CIRD empowers citizens to build on their rural assets, using creative placemaking to enhance local economies and quality of life.

Successful CIRD applicants are selected to participate in one of two programs:

1) Workshop Communities feature a tailored, multi-day workshop with design experts. It includes a $10,000 stipend for related expenses and check-ins with CIRD staff members on a quarterly basis.

2) Learning Cohorts give two local leaders an opportunity to participate in a rural design summit in fall 2019. It provides $1,000 travel stipends and access to online education and coaching.

Read about past CIRD projects in Greenville, Mississippi; Las Vegas, New Mexico; and Valentine, Nebraska.

Apply for CIRD through July 22. Applications may be submitted by local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, Main Street organizations, university community design centers, and other eligible entities.

Download the CIRD guidelines here.

Nominate an Oklahoman for a National Heritage Fellowship

Through July 30, the National Endowment for the Arts is accepting nominations for its National Heritage Fellowships program.

Honoring master folk and traditional artists who reflect our nation's living cultural heritage, fellowships recognize artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to America's traditional arts. The program supports ethnic and cultural diversity as a strength of our national character. Fellows are awarded up to $25,000.

Established in 1982, program recipients have included bluegrass musicians, Cajun fiddlers, storytellers, cowboy poets, quilters, oud players, basketweavers, and others representing a wide range of artistic traditions. Wanda Jackson, Doc Tate Nevaquaya, and Georgeann Robinson are among past Oklahoma fellows. An Osage Nation citizen, Robinson's ribbonwork was used as inspiration for the design of the fellowship award.

Instructions for submitting a nomination are available here.

Sand Springs Art Teacher Earns Fulbright Award

Oklahoma arts educator Leland Leslie of Sand Springs is one of 25 U.S. teachers who will travel overseas through a Fulbright grant program during 2019-2020.

Selected for academic and professional achievement and leadership potential, recipients of Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Research grants travel to one of 12 countries for up to six months of independent study and professional development. An art teacher at Central Ninth Grade Center, Leslie will travel to Finland as part of the program. He hopes to explore how Finnish students learn in group settings. He also wants to know more about their use of phenomenon-based learning.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to build relationships between the U.S. and other countries to address global challenges.

Read the news story about Leslie's award.

Chenven Foundation Grants for Individual Artists

Individual artists who are planning a new craft or visual art project may be eligible to apply for a $1,500 grant from the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation. Grants are unrestricted cash awards meant to assist artists in the continuation of their work.

To apply, artists must submit an artist statement, a curriculum vitae, a project description, five images of their work, and an image list. The application deadline is July 15.

Previous Chenven Foundation grant recipients have represented a variety of artistic and craft expression. (The foundation does not support film, video, performance art or music submissions).

Visit for details on applying.

Oklahoma Museums Can Participate in Program for Military Families

Museums across Oklahoma can take part in this summer's Blue Star Museums program. Launched by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010, the program provides free admission to active duty military and their families through Labor Day.

Each year, more than 2,000 museums nationwide participate. Oklahoma museums are encouraged to register.

Supporters of the program include First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence, serving as honorary program co-chairs for 2019. The United States Conference of Mayors has issued a resolution urging mayors to promote Blue Star Museums and encouraging museums to register for it. To find a Blue Star Museum in Oklahoma, click here.

Museums can register here for free to participate.

Grants and Programs Assistant Position Open

The Oklahoma Arts Council is seeking a Grants and Programs Assistant to provide support to the agency's grants office and to assist with general administrative and programmatic needs. The person in this position will serve as the initial point of contact for organizations seeking Oklahoma Arts Council grant support. He/she will process grant applications, coordinate panel review meetings, manage records, process grant payments, and more.

An equal opportunity employer, the Oklahoma Arts Council strives to build a diverse team comprised of the best and brightest individuals to support our mission to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma's thriving arts industry. We seek enthusiastic, creative individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to public service to contribute to our team.

Visit for the full position description and application instructions. The position is open until filled.

Introducing Jarica Walsh, Art in Public Places Director

After more than three years on staff with the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC), Jarica Walsh has joined the staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council as the director of the Oklahoma Art in Public Places (OAIPP) program.

In her new role, Walsh will help state agencies and artists navigate the public art process involved with new government buildings and capital improvement projects. She looks forward to using the process to help state agencies connect with the citizens they serve .

"One of the great things about the program is the site committee," Walsh said. "The (participating) agency has a lot of input in the process (through the committee). They have the chance to connect with the community, meet people, and build connections with people outside their usual scope of business."

Walsh is excited that the program enables the Oklahoma Arts Council to directly fund Oklahoma artists. She feels her OVAC experience will help as she guides artists through developing their concepts, understanding the business side of their projects, and navigating other steps in the process.

Stay tuned for the chance to see more public art across Oklahoma soon. Learn more about the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program at

Fun Facts About Walsh and the Oklahoma Public Art Collection:

  • Walsh is most interested in seeing "Thermal Bliss," a recent installation by Stan Carroll at the Lake Murray Lodge.

  • The part of the state's public art collection that surprised Walsh? The artwork in the Oklahoma Judicial Center. She knew about the artwork, but didn't know it was part of the collection.

  • An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, Walsh is a practicing artist whose primary medium is ceramics.

Contact Jarica Walsh with questions about the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program at or (405) 521-2030.