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Oklahoma Arts Council News

August 2022

Become a Docent and Lead Tours at the State Capitol

With the return of hundreds of artworks to the Oklahoma State Capitol, a new museum-quality docent program administered by the Oklahoma Arts Council will soon provide visitors engaging experiences in art, history, architecture, and government. The artwork has been in storage during the multi-year renovation of the historic building.

Individuals interested in being a part of this dynamic opportunity to create lasting impressions on school children and worldwide visitors can apply now for a volunteer docent position.

Regular training sessions led by Oklahoma Arts Council staff will equip docents to lead tours of at least 45 minutes. Tours of the Capitol are typically given weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Among docent criteria, individuals must be 18 years of age, pass a background check, represent the tour program in a nonpartisan capacity.

Learn more and apply here.

Classroom Supply Grants Open August 15

Beginning August 15, schools can apply for up to $500 in funding to purchase classroom art supplies through Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts from the Oklahoma Arts Council. In order to qualify, schools must have at least one part-time arts instructor in the discipline for which they request funding. 

Supplies can be used to purchase consumable, non-permanent items for use with disciplines including dance, drama/theatre, music, and visual and media arts. See examples of eligible supplies.

The grants are designed to be easy for schools to access. Applications are due September 15. See details here.

RELATED: Nonprofit arts organizations can soon apply for $10,000 from the Oklahoma Arts Council to support programs in alternative education. Stay tuned!

Nominate Someone for the 2023 Governor's Arts Awards

Nomination forms for the 2023 Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards are now available. The Oklahoma Arts Council is accepting nominations through October 14.

Presented in several categories, including community service, education, business, media, and public service, the awards recognize individuals and organizations across the state for their contributions to the arts. The Governor's Award is presented to select nominees for longtime leadership and significant contributions.

Nominees must be current full-time Oklahoma residents or organizations that work in and for the benefit of Oklahoma.

Nominations may be submitted using an online form or by downloading a hardcopyform.

The 2023 Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards ceremony will take place in the State Capitol in the spring.

Click here to see nomination guidelines, selection criteria, and a list past winners.

Oklahoma's 'Four Sons' Reinstalled in Capitol Rotunda

The Oklahoma State Capitol's transformation into the state's large public museum continued in July, as the Oklahoma Arts Council oversaw reinstallation of numerous works during the month. Among the works reinstalled were portraits of Robert S. Kerr, Will Rogers, Sequoyah, Jim Thorpe—Oklahoma's "four sons"—by acclaimed artist Charles Banks Wilson. They are among more than 500 works being brought back into the building in the coming months following the Capitol restoration project. Most of the artwork was removed to protect it from the harsh construction environment. 

Joining the returning artwork will be nearly 20 newly commissions. Also underway are the launch of a docent program, development of educational curriculum, and other new programs.

Watch this news segment about the "four sons" being reinstalled.

Learn more about the reinstallation project.

Teaching Artists, Organizations Invited to Creative Aging Event

On August 25, the Oklahoma Arts Council will offer a day-long convening bringing together teaching artists and arts, health, and social service organization administrators around the growing field of Creative Aging. The Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange will take place at the Belle Isle Library from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will feature presentations, panel conversations, table talk discussions, breakout sessions, speed networking, and more. View the schedule here.

There is no cost to register, and lunch will be provided. The event will be an ideal time to network, exchange ideas, and get further equipped for offering arts programming that meets important needs in the lives of older adults.

Register for the event here.

The Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange is made possible through the support of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.

Hometown Grants from T-Mobile Aims to Help Small Towns

T-Mobile has partnered with Smart Growth America and Main Street America to invest in small towns nationwide. Through their Hometown Grant program, project funding of up to $50,000 are being awarded to communities with 50,000 people or less.

From downtown revitalization to greenspaces and community centers, projects that build, rebuild, or refresh community spaces fostering local connections will be funded. Recently funded submissions have included mural walls, musical flower art installations, and the transformation of a historic building into an arts center.

Submissions can be made by nonprofit leaders, town managers/employees, and elected officials. Applications are accepted quarterly, with the next deadline in September.

Learn more here.

OMA Offering Webinar for Attracting, Retaining Employees

Organizations across industries are experiencing noticeable shifts in the workforce landscape, creating challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. The arts and cultural industry is no exception. In response to these challenges, the Oklahoma Museums Association (OMA) will present a free two-part webinar in August to highlight the current state of Oklahoma's workforce and discuss creative strategies that can be deployed by organizations to confront workforce issues.

To present the webinar series, OMA has partnered with the OSU Spears School of Business, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and Institute of Museums and Library Services. The webinars will be led by Abbey Davis, an assisant professor in the Spears School of Business at OSU and former corporate HR professional.

Part One: Setting the Stage - Wednesday, August 10
Part Two: Responding and Next Steps - Thursday, August 11

Webinars are 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Register for the free webinars here.

Mid-America Arts Alliance Celebrates 50 Years

Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) is celebrating 50 years of service to Oklahoma and five other regional states during the fiscal year. Founded in 1972, M-AAA was the nation's first Regional Arts Organization (RAO), established to provide access to the arts for people living in middle America whose access was limited by geographic, financial, and other factors. Headquartered in Kansas City, MAAA's region includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Over 50 years, M-AAA has awarded more than $51 million in grants to over 18,000 artists and cultural organizations. In addition to grant programs such as their Regional Touring Program and Artistic Innovations, M-AAA offers capacity-building programs and manages ExhibitsUSA, a traveling exhibition program.

Read more about their 50th anniversary.

RELATED: M-AAA awards Artistic Innovations Grants awarded to three Oklahoma applicants. Perpetual Motion Modern Dance, M.J. Alexander, and Naima Lowe awarded $15,000 each for new projects. See the projects here.

Water-Themed Art Projects Eligible for Awesome Foundation Grants

A worldwide volunteer organization that "advances the interest of awesome in the universe," the Awesome Foundation provides no-strings-attached micro-grants to people and groups. Among its initiatives, Awesome Foundation is accepting applications for On the Water,   through which it awards $1,000 grants for projects that bring creativity, culture, and inclusion to the water. 

Projects that have been supported have raised awareness for coral reef protection, explored the consequences of water contamination, celebrated Dia de los Muertos on a canal, and more.

See examples of On the Water projects.

Apply for an On the Water grant.

New Finance Director April Tarver Balances Organization, Creativity

There's an assumption one can't be both a highly organized and highly creative person. If true, April Tarver is the exception. Since the age of 12, the Oklahoma Arts Council's new finance director has had an interest in the field. A knack for being good at math further propelled Tarver to pursue her career course. It is a career that for Tarver has included stints with accounting firms, the healthcare industry, an insurance regulator, and now the arts.

Predisposed with a flair for the creative by her father, Tarver's foray into the arts began in earnest when she found a co-worker's quilting hobby to be intriguing. The initial intrigue blossomed into a full-scale hobby for Tarver, who has since completed nearly 20 quilts. With designs ranging from personalized memory quilts to whimsical themes like Minecraft, Tarver's work showcases her creative impulse.

Tarver's diversion into quilting also helped spark a growing interest in learning about other artistic disciplines. She enjoys discovering what other people do to be creative, and after a recent conversation about pottery, she even decided she'd like to try her hand at it.

Getting her hands dirty in art would seem to be a contradiction for someone who loves the "clean and straightforward" nature of accounting, as she describes it. In Tarver's experience, people in her field seldom possess the qualities associated with creatives. But, Tarver is perhaps a rare breed who finds satisfaction in both. In her day job, she enjoys the finance and budgeting process, using the word, "detective," to describe the analytical nature of the work. Given her central role in stewarding public funds appropriated to the agency, detective is an apt description.

"It's a position to take seriously because it is the state's money," said Tarver, whose first job with the state was with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

Having come from the private sector, the significance of overseeing taxpayer dollars didn't at first register with Tarver. She credits something a deputy director at the Oklahoma Insurance Department said during a meeting for making it sink in.

With the Oklahoma Arts Council, while some of her responsibilities are new, Tarver is applying her state experience as she hits the ground running. Her goal for what's ahead—budgeting, procurement, accounting, ensuring transparency to the people of Oklahoma—fittingly, is to, "organize and make something beautiful out of the work."

April Tarver can be reached at (405) 521-4875 or