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Oklahoma Arts Council News

January 2021

Deadline Nears for Schools to Apply for $500 Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 20, 2020) – Oklahoma schools with eligible fine arts staff have through February 1 to apply for up to $500 in funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council to purchase qualifying visual and performing arts supplies for the 2020-2021 school year.

Through the state arts agency’s Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts program, schools that have at least one part-time arts instructor in the discipline for which they apply are eligible for funding. Disciplines may include dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual arts.

Read the full release...

Reasons for Optimism in 2021

by Amber Sharples, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director

There has been no shortage of humorous and ironic social media posts about the end of 2020 as Oklahomans are ready to move beyond what has been a difficult year. Challenges confronting our sector won't magically disappear in 2021, but there are reasons for optimism. In December, the Oklahoma Arts Council awarded $3 million to organizations in the arts and cultural industry after an allocation of CARES Act funding to the sector by Governor Stitt. While long-term needs must still be addressed, we're hopeful about what this funding could signify – a 2021 in which our sector will begin to lay the foundation for our path to recovery from the pandemic. As we start the new year, below are a few additional reasons for optimism in 2021:

The FY2022 state budget - Last week, officials reported that the state will have more money to use in crafting its budget for fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). The welcome announcement comes after months of uncertainty about how the pandemic would affect state revenue. State appropriations account for a significant portion of the Oklahoma Arts Council budget.

A new strategic plan - The Oklahoma Arts Council will soon have a new strategic planthat will guide our services across the state for the next five years. We look forward to sharing the plan soon, especially because many of you helped shape it through surveys and listening sessions.

The Second Stimulus: Supporting the Arts through Saving Our Stages - After months of negotiations, Congress included "Save Our Stages" funding in its latest COVID-19 relief bill to offer $15 billion in support for thousands of performance venues, theaters, museums and zoos nationwide that have experienced significant revenue losses.

Silver Linings for Our Sector – Through this pandemic, we have collectively learned that the work we do transforms the lives of Oklahomans every day. The arts connect us when we cannot physically be in the same space and when we are distanced for the safety of our audiences and artists. We have pivoted in the face of the changing landscape of the pandemic and have found innovative ways to support arts education and arts access for all Oklahomans. When this pandemic comes to an end, we will have gained knowledge and flexibility in our work, especially as it relates to utilizing digital platforms and other technologies. 

On behalf of the Oklahoma Arts Council board and staff, we recognize your tremendous work in 2020. As we start this new year, I hope that our gratitude and our optimism for the future are just a few of the many reasons to feel hopeful about what's ahead. Our staff looks forward to continuing to serve you in 2021.

Classroom Supply Grants Available

The Oklahoma Arts Council has opened its second round of Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools that did not apply for funding through the program in fall 2020 may apply for up to $500 to purchase qualifying visual and performing arts supplies. Applications are due February 1.

To be eligible, schools must have at least one part-time fine arts instructor in the discipline for which they apply for funding. Disciplines may include dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual arts (including media arts).

Supplies purchased by schools through the program must be consumable, non-permanent items. The program can assist with supplies that support distance learning.

Learn more about the grant in this recorded webinar.

To apply, go to

RELATED: $500 Association of American Educators Foundation Classroom Grants. Click here.

Nearly 170 Organizations Receive Arts and Cultural Relief Grants

Much needed financial relief for Oklahoma's arts and cultural industry, hit hard by the pandemic, was provided in December, as nearly 170 organizations in every part of the state were awarded a share of $3 million in CARES Act funding. Administered by the Oklahoma Arts Council as Oklahoma Arts and Cultural Industry Relief Grants, the funding was specifically allocated to the industry by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. Organizations representing 48 communities received the one-time grant awards, reflecting their budgets for arts programming.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples thanked the Governor for supporting the arts and cultural sector and recognizing its role in achieving leaders' goals for the state. Shartples stressed the need for leaders to make a long-term commitment to supporting the industry as its works to bounce back from the pandemic.

Read the announcement about the grant awards here.

Rauschenberg Foundation Can Help with Artist Health Emergencies

Select artists who have had unexpected medical, dental, and mental health emergencies in the past six months may be eligible to receive assistance through the Rauschenberg Medical Emergency Grantsprogram. Administered through a partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts, the one-time grants will provide up to $5,000 to visual and media artists and choreographers.

Artists of color and artists with disabilities are encouraged to apply. The program is open to artists residing in locations throughout the U.S.

Deadline is January 6. Go to for details.

$100,000 Available to Support Digital Strategies

Oklahoma is one of five states where cultural organizations are eligible to apply for up to $100,000 through the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation's new Digital Changemaker Grant program. The grants will be provided to organizations to execute digital projects that refine or evolve their digital strategy. Funds may be used for projects such as curating digital exhibitions, improving audience engagement, digitizing collections, improving accessibility to content and services, and more. Museums, cultural heritage centers, tribal organizations, libraries, and local councils are among the potential types of organizations that can receive funding.

Learn more about the Digital Changemaker Grant program.

March 11, 2021 is the deadline for applications.

Click here to apply.

COVID Crisis Grants Available from Red Dirt Relief Fund

A new grant from Red Dirt Relief Fund can provide up to $1,000 in aid to Oklahoma music professionals. The organization's COVID Crisis Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis to assist those facing immediate housing, food, medical, or transportation insecurity. To be eligible, applicants must have sustained a financial loss of at least $5,000 due to canceled or postponed gigs as a result of the pandemic. Applicants must have worked in the music business for the past five years.

Executive Director Katie Dale said while many music professionals continue facing unemployment or underemployment due to the pandemic, she hopes the grants can help bridge the gap until the industry begins to recover.

Click here to apply.

Endowment's 'Grants for Arts Projects' Deadline Approaching

The National Endowment for the Arts' Grants for Arts Projects category is the federal agency's principal grants program for organizations across the United States. The program makes available project-based support ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 for activities that provide the public with access and engagement opportunities with the arts. Organizations eligible to apply for funding through the program include 501(c)(3) nonprofits, units of state or local governments, and federally recognized tribal communities.

Deadline for the first round of Grants for Arts Projects is February 11. Deadline for a second round of funding through the program is in July.

The Arts Endowment seeks applications from organizations with a wide range of budgets representing all types of communities. It is encouraging applications for projects that use the arts to unite and heal in response to current events.

Learn how your organization can apply.

Funding for African American Cultural Heritage Projects

Through January 15, letters of intent may be submitted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Grants of $50,000 to $150,000 from the program can assist with preservation activities of museums, sites, and landscapes that represent African American cultural heritage.

Eligible applicants for program funding include 501(c)(3) nonprofits and public agencies. The fund supports capital projects, organizational capacity building, project planning, and programming and interpretation. See examples of funded projects.

Click here to learn more.

'The Crossroads of Dreams' Selected for OKPOP Public Art

When the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) opens its doors in Tulsa in fall 2022, suspended in the center of the museum's atrium will be "The Crossroads of Dreams," a new work of public art created through the Oklahoma Arts Council's Oklahoma Art in Public Places program.

Selected out of nearly 200 submissions from artists representing 14 countries, "The Crossroads of Dreams" is a concept of artist Joe O'Connell and his team from Creative Machines in Tucson, Arizona. A committee of individuals from the Tulsa community selected the concept. For the sculpture, O'Connell's team will fabricate a starburst-shaped sculpture that incorporates thousands of handmade glass spheres that evoke the ink dots used in printing vintage comic books in the 1930s to 1950s. Computer-controlled LED lights embedded into the glass spheres will emanate animated lighting sequences.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said "The Crossroads of Dreams" reflects OKPOP's mission by meeting the challenge of capturing in one work of art the uncommon talent and creativity of Oklahomans.

Curriculum Spotlight: Jennifer Allman's 'Better Photography Basics'

Three sessions in "Better Photography Basics" by local teaching artist Jennifer Allman are among the many downloadable lessons available through the Oklahoma Arts Council's Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum.

Ideal for students in grades 6-12, "Better Photography Basics" focuses on improving students' photography skills by helping them understand essentials in composition and lighting. Sessions include exercises that will help students improve their techniques. Concepts include the rule-of-thirds, linear distortion, the four basic directions of lights, and more.

Click below to download "Better Photography Basics" sessions:

Created to meet the distance learning needs of students, parents, and teachers, resources of the Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum are aligned with Oklahoma Academic Standards.

Ben Hanneman Returns to Oklahoma Arts Council Staff

A trained musician and vocalist who pursued drama and musical theater in school, Ben Hanneman never set out to make a living through the arts. His practical side led him to earn degrees in finance and accounting, and since 2000, Hanneman has applied his skills mostly while on staff with the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council. For a relatively brief window of time, 2010 to 2014, Hanneman had the chance to make a living in the arts, as Finance Director for the Oklahoma Arts Council. In October, Hanneman returned to the position, where he finds himself back at a place that is "near and dear to his heart."

As Finance Director, Hanneman seeks to help staff maximize their budgets and capitalize on the resources of the agency. He performs financial analysis, handles payroll, and manages purchasing. Hanneman's efforts in the arts go beyond his role with the Oklahoma Arts Council. In addition to serving part time at the Oklahoma City Civic Center for nearly 12 years, Hanneman has volunteered at the Oklahoma City Community College Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater and for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

In addition to the arts, Hanneman and his wife, Aimee, are involved in other community efforts. They serve on the Parent Advisory Council for OU Health, where they provide important perspective on a wide range of hospital services. They also oversee the Love Like Crazy Foundation, which they established after the loss of their son, Bennett, to a rare condition called Pearson Syndrome. Helping Oklahomans who are experiencing crisis due to complex medical needs, the foundation assists with expenses such as house and car payments for parents who face significant medical bills. Starting the foundation was a way for the Hannemans to "pay it forward" after receiving support from others during their own crisis with Bennett.

Of his return to the Oklahoma Arts Council, Hanneman says he feels reconnected to a staff whose passion is energizing. He looks forward to building on previously established relationships and establishing new ones.

Ben Hanneman can be reached at (405) 521-4875 or