Skip navigation

Oklahoma Arts Council News

May 2019

Standing Room Only as Governor Stitt Presents Arts Awards

The fourth floor rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol was filled to capacity on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 16, as hundreds of Oklahomans celebrated the efforts of the 43rd Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards honorees.

Representing communities across the state, 17 individuals and one organization received awards in several categories. Governor Kevin Stitt gave the keynote remarks and presented the awards for the first time during a ceremony that featured a special performance by Tulsa's internationally-renowned American soprano, Sarah Coburn.

In his remarks, Governor Stitt said, "When you talk about being top 10, I think about leveraging this art community because the proven ability of the arts just goes a long way to developing our education system, our rural development, our health care. I think it's intertwined in everything we do."

See news coverage of the event here.

View the photo album of the event.

Vote for Oklahoma Schools in Vans Custom Culture Competition

Student-designed Vans sneakers may help one of two Oklahoma high schools earn $75,000 for their art program. Entries from Anadarko High School and Cache High School are among 50 finalists from across the nation in the 2019 Vans Custom Culture competition. Created to inspire and empower students to embrace their creativity, the annual contest requires students to design and paint blank canvas Vans shoes around specific themes. Vans uses the program to help bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets.

The top five schools in the competition will receive prizes. In addition to the $75,000 grand prize, runner up schools will each receive $10,000. The public vote is weighted with Vans' internal vote to determine winners..

Vote now at Voting ends May 3.

Oklahoma's Jeanetta Calhoun Mish Earns $100,000 Poetry Fellowship

Dr. Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Oklahoma's poet laureate since 2017, is one of only 13 poets from across the nation to earn an inaugural Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. The awards were created to enable poets to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects.

Serving states, counties, and cities across the U.S., poets were selected in "recognition of their literary merit and to support civic programs, which will take place over the next twelve months." Supported through her $100,000 fellowship award, Dr. Mish will focus on presenting workshops for schools and communities in underserved and rural areas of Oklahoma.

The fellowships are made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Academy of American Poets Executive Director Jennifer Benka said the funding is important because of the relatively limited support for poets working on public projects.

Announcements about the fellowships were carried by national media. Read the announcement at

Tulsa's Joy Harjo Wins 2019 Jackson Poetry Prize

Award-winning Oklahoma poet Joy Harjo has added a new honor to her list of accolades. The Tulsa-based poet has been named the 2019 Jackson Poetry Prize winner. Awarded annually by Poets & Writers, the prize recognizes an American poet "of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition." Harjo's award of $65,000 will help further her opportunities to write.

Winners of the Jackson Poetry Prize are nominated by a panel of their peers who remain anonymous. In their selection of Harjo, the competition judges said Harjo's writing possesses a "sense of timelessness, of ongoingness, of history repeating; these are poems that hold us up to the truth and insist we pay attention.

A reading and reception in honor of Harjo's award will be presented by Poets & Writers in New York City on June 17.

Read more about the announcement here.

21st Century Community Learning Grants Opening Soon

Through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) provides grants for student learning opportunities during out-of-school time. The program assists students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools with meeting academic standards.

Schools, school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations, and other entities are eligible to apply to serve students who attend a school site that is eligible for designation as a Title I school-wide program. Programs eligible for funding may take place before school, after school, and during summer and other breaks.

The application process for the 2019 program will open in the spring.

Learn more about the program here.

M-AAA Announces Interchange Artist Grant Program

A new grant program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) is aimed at supporting individual artists as change agents and connectors within their communities. Through the Interchange Artist Grant program, 16 artists in the M-AAA region will receive $20,000 in funding to lead projects focused on social impact. In addition to funding, artists will benefit from professional development retreats and mentoring.

Artists submitting projects for funding must have active socially-engaged creative practices. These practices feature an artist working with the public on an artist-led vision that may include research, process, and/or content generation with an intention of social impact outside of a traditional audience experience. They may also feature projects co-designed with the public to serve a public, non-arts partner's need.

The M-AAA region includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas.

Applications are due June 3.

Learn more here.

NEA Art Works Grant Deadline July 11

Eligible Oklahoma organizations statewide are encouraged to pursue funding through the National Endowment for the Arts' Art Works grant program. With a deadline of July 11, grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 are available.

Funding is open to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, units of local government, and federally recognized tribes in support of access to the arts. Project types may vary.

Applications are especially encouraged for projects that:

  • Honor the 2020 centennial of women's voting rights

  • Engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Hispanic or Latino organizations; or Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian arts

  • Celebrate America's creativity and cultural heritage

  • Invite dialogue that fosters mutual respect for diverse beliefs and values

  • Enrich humanity by broadening an understanding of ourselves

Learn more about NEA Art Works grants.

Oklahoma Teaching Artists Can Participate in Development Lab

An upcoming professional development program in Wichita Falls, Texas, led by Lincoln Center Education (LCE), is open to teaching artists in Oklahoma.

Hosted at Midwestern State University Texas and presented by the Wichita Falls Alliance of Arts and Culture, the week-long Teaching Artist Development Lab can benefit artists, educators, and youth development workers. The training will take place May 26 through June 1.

In addition to experiential workshops utilizing their inquiry-based approach to arts education, a three-member team from Lincoln Center Education will cover guidelines for effective planning and strategies for responsive facilitation. Joining the team as a guest workshop leader will be Eric Booth, one of the pioneers of the teaching artist profession.

Registration is limited to 35 participants. Learn more about the program and register here.

Native Artists Can Be Nominated for Community Spirit Awards

First Peoples Fund's Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards is an annual program honoring exceptional Native artists and culture bearers across the nation. Practicing Native artists in any medium whose careers of 10 years or more demonstrate a commitment to their art can be nominated for the award through June 15.

To be eligible, artists must be a documented affiliate of a United States tribe. Visual, performing, and literary artists in traditional and contemporary forms may be nominated.

To be eligible, artists must be a documented affiliate of a United States tribe. Visual, performing, and literary artists in traditional and contemporary forms may be nominated.

Visit for details about submitting a nomination.

Norman Sculpture Restored After Vandalism

Following an act of vandalism that damaged a sculpture outside the Norman Firehouse Art Center and made national news in April, artist Richard McKown, the creator of the piece, returned to restore his work 11 years after it was originally installed.

Titled "Olivia," and modeled after McKown's daughter, the sculpture had been defaced with graffiti that included hate speech by a woman who was later arrested. The Firehouse was among several locations throughout Norman targeted in the act.

Taking a week to complete, removal of the graffiti required McKown to use specialized products designed for porous material. McKown said the restoration of the piece was important because the hate speech does not represent most Oklahomans.

Watch a News9 segment about McKown's work following the incident.

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.