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Oklahoma Arts Council News

November 2021

44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards to Take Place November 9

On Tuesday, November 9, the 44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards will be presented by Governor J. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Arts Council during a special ceremony at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Fifteen individuals and three organizations will be honored in several categories for their contributions to the arts. Among the honorees, Barbara Smith, former executive director of the historic Coleman Theatre in Miami will be presented with the Governor's Award. Guthrie artist Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho), whose design of the National Native American Veterans Memorial was recently completed in Washington, D.C., will be given a Special Recognition Award.

Open to the public, the event will include the designation of United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo as the 14th Oklahoma Cultural Treasure and the designation of Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth as the seventh Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador.

The ceremony begins at 4:00 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda and will feature special performances by students of Oklahoma City University and the Edmond North High School Orchestra. A public reception with light refreshments will follow the ceremony at 5:00 p.m. in the second floor rotunda.

See the announcement about this year's honorees.

Arts Sector Embraces Hope for the Days Ahead During 2021 Conference

Hundreds of Oklahomans in the arts sector convened for the first time in three years for the 2021 Oklahoma Arts Conference in Muskogee in October. Originally scheduled for 2020, the conference was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gathered against a backdrop of ongoing challenges from the pandemic, attendees were presented with sessions designed to inspire hope, resilience, and renewal in the sector.

The three-day event included a wide variety of content. Special pre-conference sessions provided space and time for deep-dive discussions for Black arts leaders, executive directors, and individuals engaged in Oklahoma cultural, heritage, and folk arts. An opening keynote on the science of hope was given by Dr. Chan Hellman, in-demand internationally for his research on the topic. Featured sessions focused on equipping leaders to guide their teams through challenging times. Breakout sessions covered areas ranging from arts education's role in social-emotional learning; creative placemaking in Muskogee; building more inclusive organizational cultures; grant opportunities for arts and community development; and, more.

Evening events included an evening of blues music hosted by Selby Minner at the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame in Rentiesville, an opening reception at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and a closing reception at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum.

Among the highlights of the 2021 Oklahoma Arts Conference was a dynamic lunchtime performance by Lil Mike and Funny Bone of the rap duo Mike Bone. The duo was recently featuredon the hit FX on Hulu show, "Reservation Dogs." Special guests at the conference included Oklahoma State Senator Dewayne Pemberton, Oklahoma State Representative Avery Frix, Oklahoma State Representative Andy Fugate, Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman, and Oklahoma State Poet Laureate Joe Russell Kreger.

Read a story in The Oklahoman about the conference.

View photos from the conference.

Call for Artists: Choctaw Code Talkers Painting for State Capitol

The Oklahoma Arts Council, in partnership with the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, has announced a call for artists for a painting commemorating the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I for an Oklahoma Art in Public Places project at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The artwork will be placed in an area proposed as the Hall of Heroes. Open to all artists living full-time in Oklahoma, the project provides $15,000 for the artist selected to create the painting. Artists who are veterans or enrolled members of federally recognized tribes are strongly encouraged to participate.

Who were the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I?

Deadline to submit qualifications is December 1. Click here to submit artist qualifications

Download a pdf of the RFQ.

RFQ Deadline Nears for Tulsa Pathway to Hope Public Art Trail

Through November 15, the Oklahoma Arts Council, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, is accepting submissions of artist qualifications for the Pathway to Hope Public Art Trail in Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Art in Public Places project will add meaningful artwork to the underpasses of Tulsa's Interstate 244, from Main Street to Greenwood Avenue, honoring the vibrant history of the Greenwood District.

Artwork conceived for the underpasses can be two- or three-dimensional but should not consist of murals painted on to the concrete. A theme has been chosen for the underpass at each street in connection with Greenwood District historical references and the cultural landscape of the area.

Artists or artist teams selected for each underpass theme will receive $285,000 to create the artwork. The call is open to all artists.

Deadline to submit qualifications is November 15.

Download the RFQ.

Funding from OSDE for Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs

Nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, institutions of higher education, and community-based organizations are among those eligible to apply for a share of $21 million now available from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) for afterschool and summer learning programs.

Made possible by federal relief funds in support of partnerships between schools and community organizations, the grants are offered in support of programs that provide valuable out-of-school time services that are designed to address students' academic, social, and emotional needs. The goal of the investment is to reach Oklahoma students who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two types of grants are being offered:

  • Ignite Awards ($50,000 to $75,000 per year) will fund programs designed to pilot long-term solutions to improve out-of-school time offerings.

  • Expand Awards ($75,000 to $150,000 per year) will fund programs designed to strengthen, broaden, and/or rebuild a compehensive program.

Awards may be renewed annually for a service period through summer 2024.

Applications are open through November 30. Organizations that offer arts programming after school or during the summer are encouraged to learn more at

Oklahoma Arts Council Gives Update on ARPA Funding

A virtual meeting hosted by the Oklahoma Arts Council in October gave important updates on pending relief funding that will be provided to the arts sector in the coming weeks and months.

During the session, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples outlined the status of state and federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The virtual update, available to view here, included:

  • Details about the Oklahoma Arts Council's approach to requesting part of the state's $1.8 billion federal ARPA allocation.

  • ARPA funding through the National Endowment for the Arts that will be administered by the Oklahoma Arts Council for Oklahoma organizations

  • A question and answer session.

Passed by Congress and signed into law in spring 2021, ARPA provides relief funding across a wide range of sector, including the arts, to aid America in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

View the recorded meeting on the Oklahoma Arts Council's YouTube channel.

Big Read Funding Available for Community-Wide Reading Programs

Organized through a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read program provides up to $15,000 in support of community-wide reading programs.

Nonprofit organizations, public libraries, school districts, local and tribal governments, and other eligible entities can apply for the program through January 26, 2022. Matching grants from $5,000 to $20,000 are available.

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

Learn how to apply for Big Read funding and offer a reading program for your community.

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Launched

Through a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts' Creative Forces initiative and the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), a new grant program is offering funding for art projects with the goal of improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations that have been exposed to trauma. Families and caregivers may also be served through the Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants.

Matching grants of $10,000 to $50,000 are available to eligible organizations for emerging and established activities that take place after July 1, 2022. Nonprofit organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities are eligible. Funding is intended to support non-clinical arts engagement programs taking place in healthcare, community, or virtual settings.

Deadline to apply is December 15, 2021.

Schools Can Register for 2021-2022 Poetry Out Loud Contest

Oklahoma high school teachers can register their schools to participate in the 2021-2022 Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud competition. Administered by Oklahoma A+ Schools, the program is a free poetry recitation contest for students in grades 9-12. The winner of the state competition receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals.

Since it was established in 2005, the national Poetry Out Loud competition has grown to reach more than 4 million students in 17,000 schools nationwide. Made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, the program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

The 2021-2022 Poetry Out Loud Teacher's Guide is available here.

December 1 is the deadline for schools to register to participate.

Oklahoma A+ Schools manages the state program in partnership with the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Anita Fields to be Featured in National Heritage Fellowship Film

Oklahoma artist Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee) and her cohort of 2021 National Heritage Fellows will be featured in a debut film that will be presented by the National Endowment for the Arts on Wednesday, November 17, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Culture of America: A Cross-Country Visit with the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows is a tribute to this year's fellows. The film will be webcast free to the public at

Hosted by award-winning actor Jimmy Smits, the one-hour film will take viewers on a virtual trip across the country where they will see where this year's fellows live and work. 

Field's segment will help viewers connect with the essence of the Osage people as Fields shares about her ribbon work and discusses how her work incorporates contemporary influences while paying tribute to her ancestors.

View more information about the film and webcast.

See Anita Fields' 2021 NEA National Heritage Fellow page.

Executive Assistant Position Open with Oklahoma Arts Council

The Oklahoma Arts Council has an opening for the position of Executive Assistant. The person hired for the position will provide day-to-day support to the Executive Director and assist with some financial management duties.

Successful candidates will demonstrate professional business orientation and acumen, possess exceptional interpersonal and written communication skills, be adept at interacting with people of various backgrounds, have excellent planning and organizational skills, and more. A minimum of five years of office administration experience and a high level of computer literacy are required.

The Oklahoma Arts Council strives to build a diverse team comprised of the best and brightest individuals to support the agency's mission to lead, cultivate, and amplify the transformative power of the arts for all Oklahomans and their communities.

Go to to read the full job description and application instructions.

Oklahoma Arts Council Board Elects New Officers

Charles Moore of Summit/Broken Arrow is the new Chair of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board. The board's election of Moore was approved during its fall meeting on October 27 during the Oklahoma Arts Conference.

Joining Moore as officers for the state agency are Tracie Chapman of Mannsville as Vice-Chair, and Kristie Buergler of Oklahoma City as Secretary. Deanna Cardenas of Oklahoma City and Stephania Grober of Tulsa were also named to the executive committee. Officers are elected to one-year terms.

Moore takes over as Chair for Darlene Parman of Oklahoma City, who played a critical role in guiding the agency through months of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.