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Oklahoma Arts Council News

October 2021

44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards Honorees Announced

OKLAHOMA CITY (October 7, 2021) – The Oklahoma Arts Council has announced the names of 14 individuals and three organizations that will be honored for their contributions to the arts during the 44th Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Awards on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.

Read the news release.

Oklahoma Arts Conference Registration Deadline is October 8

The final deadline to register for the 2021 Oklahoma Arts Conference is Friday, October 8. Registration for the three-day event, October 27-29 in Muskogee, is $179 per person.

With "Embracing the Dawn" as the theme for 2021, the conference is designed to equip Oklahoma's arts sector to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In developing sessions and events, the Oklahoma Arts Council prioritized individuals' physical, emotional, creative, and social wellbeing.

Featured presenters for the event are Dr. Chan M. Hellman, founding director of The Hope Research Center, and Jachin Merrill, an executive coach with expertise in team building, emotional intelligence, human motivation, and psychological type.

A pre-conference forum on folk and traditional arts will be led by Lisa Rathje, executive director for Local Learning in Chicago. Rathje will present, "Embracing Folk and Traditional Arts for a New Day" on Wednesday afternoon. The forum is offered at no additional cost.

Conference Schedule

As sessions are finalized they are being added to the schedule on the conference website. Be sure to check the schedule often for updates!

Commitment to Safety and Wellbeing

The Oklahoma Arts Council's top priority is the safety and wellbeing of all conference attendees. View our list of COVID-19 safety protocols and learn more about our efforts to prioritize your wellness here.

Register by October 8

Click here to register for the 2021 Oklahoma Arts Conference.

Call for Artists: Tulsa Pathway to Hope Public Art Trail

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 onto 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.

Oklahoma Arts and the Military Grants Now Offered Year-Round

The Oklahoma Arts Council's grant funding for programs serving military-connected individuals can now be accessed year-round. Up to $5,000 is available for eligible organizations to use toward classes and workshop, performances, exhibitions, consultant services, and more. Applications may be submitted at any time as long as a project has not ended.

Eligible applicants include 501(c)3 nonprofits incorporated in Oklahoma, government entities, colleges and universities, and public libraries.

Primary audiences for programs should be active-duty service personnel, reservists, National Guard members, veterans, immediate family members and/or caregivers.

Download the grant guidelines.

View an application preview.

Watch a recorded informational webinar about the grant program from August.

Oklahoma Arts Council Details Pandemic Impact for Legislators

In September, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples appeared before the Oklahoma State Legislature's Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding Working Group on Government Transformation and Collaboration. The legislative committee is tasked with recommending expenditures of the state's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. As a portion of the federal funding given to Oklahoma will go directly to state agencies, Sharples was among several state agency directors asked to present on the impact of the pandemic on constituents, sectors, and Oklahomans.

"The pandemic had a disproportionate impact on the arts," Sharples said during her remarks. "The arts and cultural sector was first to close their doors and will likely be the last to reopen."

Sharples cited a $43.7 million loss in revenue reported by Oklahoma Arts Council grantees from March to December 2020. She also said grantees have experienced a 57 percent increase in costs due to the pandemic. See the one-page report.

"We will lose a generation of growth in the arts sector without financial support," Sharples stated.

Soon: American Rescue Plan Webinar

The Oklahoma Arts Council is organizing a webinar to share details about American Rescue Plan funding and the agency's proposal to support the arts sector. More information will be provided soon on a date and time for the webinar. Be sure to check your inbox and social media.

Capitol Artwork, Event Celebrate a Shared Spirit of Freedom

Two hundred years ago, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and to mark the historic occasion and the regard for liberty and freedom shared by Oklahoma and Mexico, the Oklahoma Arts Council partnered with Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt and the Consul General of Mexico to bring the artwork of Mexican sculptor José Sacal to the Oklahoma State Capitol for a special exhibition in the Governor's Gallery.

On September 16, a reception and diplomatic ceremony opened the exhibition, with performances by Mexican folkloric dancers and musicians, remarks by the chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Latino Caucus, a curatorial presentation, and an exchange of gifts between Governor Stitt and Consul General Rodolfo Quilantán.

"The arts are valuable tools in diplomatic relations," Governor Stitt said in his remarks. "They foster cultural understanding and rapport between governments."

The public can view the exhibition of sculptures in the Governor's Gallery through December 3. The gallery is located on the second floor and is open weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except when the Blue Room is being used for formal business. There is no admission fee. The exhibition is supported by the José Sacal Foundation.

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.

Oklahomans Earn Interchange Grants from Mid-America Arts Alliance

Five Oklahoma artists with projects focused on social change will receive grants from the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) after being named 2021 Interchange Fellows by the regional arts organization. Each will receive $20,000 to use toward their projects, and each will participate in convenings and peer connection with other Interchange grantees.

Oklahoma recipients are:

  • Francheshka Alcantara (Tulsa)

  • Elisa Harkins (Tulsa)

  • Chelsea T. Hicks (Bartlesville)

  • Naima Lowe (Tulsa)

  • Lucas Wrench (Tulsa)

View artists and learn about their projects.

Through the Interchange program, M-AAA recognizes  the role of individual artists as change agents and connectors in their communities. The program is designed to strengthen communities by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact.

New report shows arts are solutions for economic renewal

A new report by the National League of Cities describes how the arts benefit the broader economy after seismic shocks. Based on analysis by Indiana University economist Douglas Noonan, the report cites that:

  • The creative industries rebounded faster than the overall economy after the Great Recession

  • Places with diversified arts ecosystems showed more significant economic gains than less-diversified areas

  • The arts grow independently from other sectors, boosting economic diversity

  • Arts employment per capita raises overall employment per capita in rural states

The report also describes how creative initiatives in northwest Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Boston built on the arts for economic recovery.

Report author Cyndy Andrus, mayor of Bozeman, Montana, and board member of the National League of Cities, wrote, "As cities enter uncharted economic territory after the pandemic, the arts can help us navigate our way to recovery."

Read the report on using the arts for economic recovery.

Curriculum Spotlight: Introducing Young Students to Opera

Interactive educational videos created by Painted Sky Opera complement streamed performances of full operas for the Oklahoma-based organization's Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum.

Designed for students in grades 1-3, "Introduction to Opera" includes six lessons that cover concepts ranging from the elements of music, pitch matching, identifying music from different cultures, storytelling, and more. Operas such as "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Magic Flute" are used to explore the concepts.

Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum is designed to address Oklahoma Fine Arts Standards.

Click here to access Painted Sky Opera's curriculum.

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.