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Oklahoma Arts Council News

March 2023

More Large-Scale Artworks Installed at State Capitol

February saw the addition of two more large-scale works of art into the Oklahoma State Capitol Art Collection by the Oklahoma Arts Council. "Making Her Mark" by former longtime Enid resident Sara Scribner was installed in the Hall of Governors on the second floor. The lunette mural honors the contributions of women leaders in Oklahoma. Dr. Shannon Lucid, Opaline Deveraux Wadkins, Chief Wilma Mankiller, and Senator Maxine Horner—four women with notable achievements in science, technology, medicine, governance, economic development, and education—are depicted.

Greeting visitors on the ground floor is "Spiro: Serpent River, Shelled Stories, Sun-Touched Engravings." The vibrant new mural by Yatika Fields (Cherokee Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and Osage Nation) captures the energy of historic Spiro Mounds, showing how Oklahoma was once a hub of Indigenous trade and commerce for North America.

Both works were commissioned through the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program and managed by the Oklahoma Arts Council. They are among 21 new works commissioned as a result of the recent restoration of the Capitol.

Creative Aging Survey for Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Oklahoma Arts Council is evaluating needs for the next phase of its Oklahoma Creative Aging Initiative, and input is being sought from arts and cultural organizations across the state. Staff of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations who are involved in program development are urged to complete a brief survey that will be used by the agency as guidance in the initiative. The survey asks about current creative aging activities (if any), program partners, geographic service area, and challenges. The survey is available through March 15.

The Oklahoma Creative Aging Initiative was launched in 2021 through grant funding provided by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and E.A. Michelson Philanthropy. The goal of the initiative is to build capacity across Oklahoma for community-based arts education programs serving older adults—a fast growing segment of the population.

Complete the survey here.

Leadership Arts XII Kicks Off in February

Leadership Arts XII got underway in February as 31 class members from around the state convened in Sulphur for the first of four spring sessions. Members spent two days engaged in the program's research-based curriculum. Following a special greeting by Sulphur Mayor Cedon Harazda, group work, panel discussions, an artist demonstration, and a walking tour of downtown Sulphur arts and cultural spaces were the focus of the February agenda. Among their stops, class members visited the Artesian Gallery, Chickasaw Cultural Center, and Oka' Chokmasi park. The Chickasaw Nation also provided a special welcome for the group.

Members of Leadership Arts XII represent 20 different Oklahoma communities. Boswell, Claremore, Custer City, Hennessey, Seminole, and Watonga are represented for the first time. Leadership Arts began in 2008 and is offered every two years.

Leadership Arts began in 2008 and is offered every two years. Learn more here.

Bob Wills Day at the Capitol Celebration March 6

The "King of Western Swing" whose influence on music can still be heard today will be celebrated at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, March 6. Bob Wills Day at the Capitol will feature an afternoon of performances under the dome and an evening live podcast recording at nearby Ponyboy.

Free and open to the public, performances will take place in the second-floor Capitol rotunda from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Performers will include Jana JaeCowboy Jim GarlingKyle Dillingham, and Jay Steagall & the Part-Timers featuring Danny Steagall. Oklahoma Opry will be the house band for the afternoon.

Following the Capitol event, a live recording of "A Very OK Podcast: The Bob Wills Story" will take place at Ponyboy, located near the Capitol. Hosted by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the podcast will feature Wills' daughter, Carolyn, and other guests who will discuss Wills' life and legacy.

Learn more about Bob Wills Day at the Capitol.

Plan Now for Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day 2023 at the Capitol

Oklahomans in the arts and cultural sector across the state can mark their calendars now for Oklahomans for the Arts' (OFTA) Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day 2023, scheduled for Tuesday, April 18.

The event at the State Capitol gives participants the chance to connect with legislators, learn about important legislative issues impacting the sector, receive training, and celebrate the importance of arts and culture in Oklahoma.

Additional event details will be available soon. Stay connected with OFTA at to learn more. Register now for Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day 2023.

AARP Community Challenge Grants Available

Through AARP Community Challenge grants, funding is available for projects that make communities great places to live for people of all ages. The program aims to help communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress.

Projects that incorporate the arts to create vibrant public places, increase civic engagement, improve well-being, and more may be eligible. Nonprofit organizations and government entities can apply.

Numerous Oklahoma projects have received funding since the program began in 2017, including the installation of outdoor musical equipment for Eufaula's "Musical Walk Project," and art displays for Vinita's new public gathering space, among others.

Deadline to apply is March 15. Learn more here.

Seminole Awarded Rural Placemaking Grant by HAC

Announced in February, Seminole is one of 10 communities selected by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) to receive grant funding, planning and technical assistance, and placemaking training through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. Led by the Seminole Arts Council, Seminole's project aims to reuse and preserve historic buildings and public parks with the goal of creating a community gathering space.

As part of the program, Seminole representatives will travel to Newbern, Alabama, in May for rural placemaking training hosted by Rural Studio®, a design-build program of Auburn University's architecture school.

Read the announcement.

The Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).


T-Mobile Hometown Grants are availble for rural revitalization.

Cultural and Community Resilience Grants from NEH

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is offering funding to assist organizations in safeguarding cultural resources. With an emphasis on supporting disadvantaged communities, NEH Cultural and Community Resilience Grants can provide up to $150,000 to nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, state and local governments, and federally recognized tribal governments.

Applications should address plans for mitigating the risk of loss to cultural heritage resources from weather-related occurrences, pandemics, and other events.

Deadline for applications is May 16. A recorded webinar about the program is available for viewing here.

Organizations Can Apply to Manage State Poetry Out Loud Program

Oklahoma organizations interested in managing the annual state Poetry Out Loud competition can apply for the opportunity with the Oklahoma Arts Council through April 14.

Open to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, colleges and universities, and public libraries, up to $17,500 in grant funding will be awarded to the selected organization to support outreach to high schools across the state and to organize the state contest, including coordinating the winning student's participation and travel for the national competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Poetry Foundation. Through the program, students learn about greart poetry through memorization and recitation while mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence, and learning about their literary heritage. Funding for the state program is provided by the NEA through the Oklahoma Arts Council as its state partner.

Apply to manage the program.

Samantha Haynes Providing Valuable Support for Arts Education

Samantha Haynes was brought on board part time with the Oklahoma Arts Council last fall to provide valuable support to the agency. As Arts Education Assistant, Haynes has helped roll out several new grants and programs for schools this fiscal year after the agency received federal ARPA funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education to help students catch up on learning following the pandemic.

Haynes came to Oklahoma in 2016 and has been active in the arts community—she teaches dance in school and studio settings and is a company member with RACE Dance Collective. Her role with the agency has given her new perspective as she gets to connect teachers, artists, and others with funding and resources. Her recent work has focused on the launch of Performing Arts Experience Grants for Alternative Education, which eligible schools can use to bring in performers or take students to concerts.

Haynes studied dance in college and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She says, "My parents didn't know what to think at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made."

Haynes can be reached at (405) 521-2067 or