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Oklahoma Arts Council News

November 2019

Apply for the 2020 Leadership Arts Program

Applications for the Oklahoma Arts Council's 2020 Leadership Arts program are available through November 29. The program is open to individuals involved in any arts or non-arts field interested in learning how to use the arts to strengthen communities and schools. The goal of the program is to equip individuals to become community leaders and champions for the arts.

Approximately 30 individuals from diverse communities throughout the state will be selected to participate. Members participate in four two-day sessions in different Oklahoma communities from February through May. Members must attend the 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference in October to graduate from the program.

Tuition for Leadership Arts is $499. Tuition covers all sessions, curriculum, tours, and registration for the Oklahoma Arts Conference. Conference attendance is a requirement of the program. Leadership Arts class members are responsible for their travel, lodging, and food.

Financial Assistance

Leadership Arts applicants can apply for a Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) professional development support grant specifically designed for Leadership Arts participants. Click here to learn more.

Other sources of financial assistance that may be available to offset Leadership Arts expenses include Allied Arts' Capacity Building Grants and the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's Education Grants. Be sure to review eligibility criteria for each.

Applying for Leadership Arts

Applications for Leadership Arts are due no later than November 29.

Apply for Leadership Arts.

For questions, contact Oklahoma Arts Council Assistant Director Molly O'Connor at (405) 521-2013 or

Muskogee Selected for 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference

The Oklahoma Arts Council has announced the selection of Muskogee as the host community for the 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference. The conference will take place October 14-16.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said the agency is thrilled to be bringing the conference to Muskogee for the first time.

"Muskogee reflects its roots as a thriving African American community, an important center of Oklahoma American Indian cultures, and a vital outpost for commerce and the exchange of goods and ideas," Sharples said. "Its diverse artistic and cultural heritage are assets that we look forward to highlighting during the conference."

Muskogee's cultural assets include the Ataloa Lodge Museum, Bacone College, Bare Bones Film Festival, Five Civilized Tribes Museum, Martin Luther King Community Center, Muskogee Area Arts Council, Muskogee Art Guild, Muskogee Little Theatre, Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Roxy Theatre, and the Three Rivers Museum. A new project, Depot Green, is scheduled to open by the start of the conference.

Hundreds of Oklahomans involved in the arts and others interested in using the arts in  their communities and schools will attend the 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference. The conference features professional development and networking opportunities for artists, arts administrators, community developers, educators, and others interested in leveraging the power of the arts.

Learn more about the Oklahoma Arts Conference here. Stay tuned for updates about the 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference schedule. Be sure to save the dates.

Amber Sharples Elected 2nd Vice Chair of NASAA

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples has been elected to serve as the 2nd Vice Chair of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). The announcement was made following the board's October meeting at the NASAA 2019 Leadership Institute in Rhode Island.

Sharples is a current member of the NASAA board. During the meeting she was elected to a second three-year term. Members of the board choose the officers.

NASAA Chair Suzanne Wise said, "The 2020 NASAA board represents strong and committed leadership from state arts agencies and the wider arts and culture field. I am excited to work with these outstanding leaders as we advance NASAA's mission to strengthen state arts agencies and continue to advocate for the value of the arts across all communities."

Founded in 1968, NASAA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization that united, represents, and serves the nation's state and jurisdictional arts agencies.

Read "NASAA Welcomes New 2020 Board Chair and Directors."

Apply for the Oklahoma Teaching Artist Roster

The Oklahoma Arts Council is now accepting applications for its Oklahoma Teaching Artist Roster. The roster is a resource used by schools and organizations statewide seeking qualified teaching artists for residencies and programs. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in their discipline and an ability to provide instruction.

Artists must be current Oklahoma residents. Artists representing cultural traditions are encouraged to apply. To view complete roster guidelines and requirements, download the Teaching Artist Roster Applicant Handbook.

Applications are accepted on an ongong basis. Applications submitted before January 1 will be considered for approval by the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board during its March meeting. Applications submitted before July 1 will be considered for approval by the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board during its October meeting.

Apply for the Oklahoma Teaching Artist roster.

NOTE: Roster artists are not employees of the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Organize a Community Reading Program with Support from The Big Read

Nonprofit organizations, public libraries, school districts, local and tribal governments, and other eligible entities can apply through January 29, 2020, for the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read. Up to $15,000 is available through the NEA Big Read to support community-wide reading programs.

In addition to funding, the program makes available training opportunities, digital resources, and outreach materials. Applicants choose from a diverse NEA Big Read library and organize activities such as author readings, book discussions, art exhibitions, lectures, and panel discussions.

Oklahoma resident and current U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo's books "How We Became Human" and "An American Sunrise" are among the books on this year's NEA Big Read library.

Applications are due January 29 for programming that takes place between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

The program is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Learn how you can apply.

City of Tulsa Seeks Proposals for BMX Headquarters Public Art

The City of Tulsa is seeking artist proposals for new public art at the forthcoming USA BMX National Headquarters. The budget for the public art is $100,000.

In 2016, the city announced an agreement with USA BMX to move its headquarters from Arizona, leveraging funds from Vision Tulsa.

Scheduled to open in 2021, the development north of downtown Tulsa will include an Olympic-caliber track stadium for BMX bike racing and a hall of fame museum.

Artists proposals should commemorate the histories of the surrounding neighborhoods, evoke the sport of BMX through creative use of materials and forms, and provide stunning photo opportunities for visitors.

Proposals are due December 4. Download the RFP here.

$25,000 Available through Bloomberg Asphalt Art Initiative

Through the new Asphalt Art Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies is encouraging cities with populations of 30,000 to 50,000 people to implement visual art interventions on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and public infrastructure. Offering support of $25,000, the program aims to improve street and pedestrian safety, revitalize and beautify underutilized public space, and promote collaboration and civic engagement.

Projects must completed during calendar year 2020. Projects may be temporary, long-term, or permanent. Eligible sites can include portions of active roadways, sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, traffic barriers, highway underpasses, or utility boxes.

Project teams must include a city agency and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Deadline to apply is December 12.

Download the Asphalt Art Guide.

Apply for the Asphalt Art Initiative.

Vote for Bartlesville to Receive $25,000 Levitt Grant

Bartlesville is in the running to be selected to receive a 2020 Levitt Amp [Your City] Music Series Grant. Led by Val Callaghan of the Bartlesville Community Center, Bartlesville's proposal has been selected to compete in the online voting phase of the process. They are competing against small and mid-sized communities nationwide for the $25,000 music series grant.

"Community support, as measured by the number of online votes received, will be one of the key factors when the Levitt Foundation reviews the top 25 finalists and selects the winner," Callaghan said.

If awarded, the Bartlesville series would take place in their new Tower Center at Unity Square community gathering space.

Each year, the Levitt Foundation awards $25,000 in matching grants to select small and mid-size U.S. towns and cities to present a series of 10-12 free concerts for members of their communities. A wide range of musical genres is presented. The goal of the program is activate and give life to public spaces while bringing communities together through music.

See past winners.

Vote for Bartlesville to receive the $25,000 Levitt Amp [Your City] Music Series Grant Award.

Tahlequah to Benefit from Jazz Road Tours Program

Tahlequah is among communities that will benefit from South Arts' new Jazz Road Tours program. The program provides grant support to assist mid-career jazz artists and ensembles in new touring opportunities through the U.S. In addition to helping artists identify potential venues and tour sites, Jazz Road also assists presenters who are interested in contacting Jazz Road artists for engagements.

Through the Jazz Road Tours grant program, New Orleans-based group Naughty Professor will perform in Tahlequah as part of the 2020 Green Country Jazz Festival at Northeastern State University on March 1.

See Jazz Road Tours artists and tour stops here.

$500 Artist Grants Available to Safeguard Work

Through CERF+ "Get Ready" grants, funding is available to help artists safeguard their studios and protect their work. Up to $500 is available to individual artists working in craft disciplines for activities that will prepare them for emergencies.

Activities and items that are eligible for support include documentation and archiving, inventory software, business planning, safety equipment, contractor consulting, theft protection measures, legal counsel, estate planning, and more.

Deadline to apply is November 15.

Visit the CERF+ website to review criteria and instructions.

Comment Now on New Academic Standards for Fine Arts

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has introduced revisions to the Oklahoma academic standards for fine arts and are now seeking public comment on the standards.

Academic standards for music and visual art were last reviewed and revised in 2013-2014. Standards for dance and drama/theatre are being introduced for the first time. Feedback received during the comment period will be reviewed for consideration in the revision process.

Feedback must be submitted by November 30. Following the public comment period, pending approval by the Oklahoma State Board of Education, the standards will be submitted to the Oklahoma State Legislature for consideration.

To download the Draft Fine Arts Standards for PreK-12 and for instructions on submitting feedback, visit the OSDE website.

Introducing Heidi Costello, Grants and Programs Assistant

Contact the Oklahoma Arts Council with questions about our grants, and you will likely speak with Heidi Costello. Costello joined the Oklahoma Arts Council staff in August as the agency's Grants and Programs Assistant. In this role, she supports the grants office and program directors and serves as a point of contact for the grant application process.

Born in California and raised in Phoenix, Costello came to Oklahoma in 2013 to pursue a forensic science degree from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). She was also interested in UCO's highly regarded dance department. Along the way, Costello fell further into love with dance, ultimately switching her academic focus and becoming the first graduate of the UCO arts entrepreneurship program.

Costello's passion for the arts eventually led her to the Oklahoma Arts Council. Familiar with the agency through her involvement with local dance and theatre groups, Costello applied for her position after serving two years in the student life office at the University of Oklahoma (OU) where she worked in the OU Multicultural Programs and Services department.

At OU, Costello was an advocate for students from different cultural communities. That experience helped her shift naturally to state government work where emphasis is placed on serving all Oklahomans. Costello said agency conversations about diversity and inclusion issues have made an initial impression on her.

"The fact that the whole staff put on themselves the responsibility to be part of the DEI conversations spoke volumes," Costello said. She said her experience so far has been rewarding, as she often hears from constituents who appreciate being supported in their work in the arts.

Interesting facts about Heidi:

  • She lived in Mexico for five years as a child.

  • She was the Arizona state champion in crime scene investigation at the SkillsUSA competition.

  • Holds a master's degree in adult education

Heidi Costello can be reached at (405) 521-2040 and