Skip navigation

Oklahoma Arts Council News

October 2023

Online Conference Registration Ends Friday, October 6

The deadline to register online for the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference is Friday, October 6. Registration is $219 for the three-day event.

Hundreds of Oklahomans from across the state will travel to Lawton for the biennial conference, which serves nonprofit administrators and board members, artists, community developers, educators, students, volunteers and others in the arts and cultural sector. Sessions of the 2023 conference are designed to instill a sense of optimism while equipping participants for the intrepid yet promising journey ahead.

2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference
"Promise in the Road Ahead"
October 17-19

Register here through October 6.

View the updated conference schedule.

ARPA Grant Eligibility Verification Opens October 2

The portal for Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grantsopens Monday, October 2, for organizations to begin the eligibility verification process. All 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with arts programming that serves the community are encouraged to pursue this transformative funding. Organizations currently receiving grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council must also go through the eligibility verification process. The ARPA grant will be administered through the Oklahoma Arts Council's new grant system, powered by Fluxx. The grants are made possible by a $10 million investment of state American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding in the arts and cultural sector.

Informational Session at the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference

Two sessions of the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference will provide insight into the grant funding process. A morning breakout session on Thursday, October 19, "Preparing for the ARPA Grant" will feature a panel of representatives from the Oklahoma Arts Council and its regional partners on the grant, Allied Arts OKC and Arts Alliance Tulsa, who will walk participants through the grant guidelines and requirements. There will be a Q&A session and the opportunity to sign up for "office hours" to get further assistance. The Thursday general luncheon session will feature a panel discussion of behind-the-scenes advocacy efforts that took place to secure the $10 million in funding.

In addition to the conference, the Oklahoma Arts Council will soon announce additional opportunties for organizations to get insight and have questions answered about the grant—stay tuned.

Dates at a Glance

  • October 19 – Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grant sessions at the Oklahoma Arts Conference

  • October 31 – Deadline for eligibility verification checks (all organizations must have their eligibility reviewed)

  • November – Applications open

  • Mid-December – Applications close

Visit to learn more.

RSVP for October's Oklahoma Arts and Military Summit III

Geared towards both the arts and military communities, the third Oklahoma Arts and Military Summit will take place Tuesday, October 17, in Lawton. Presented by the Oklahoma Arts Council as a free preconference session of the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference, the summit will feature a slate of featured guest speakers, group discussions, and a creative writing workshop led by award-winning author and decorated Marine veteran Dewaine Farria. The day-long summit will equip attendees with the knowledge and skills to develop cross-sector collaborative programs that bring meaningful arts learning opportunities to Oklahomans across the spectrum of military experiences. 

Conference registration is not required for participation in the summit. RSVP by contacting Erika Wilhite at

Oklahoma Arts and the Military Summit III
Tuesday, October 17
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Cameron University, McCasland Ballroom
2800 W. Gore Blvd
Lawton (map)
No cost to attend

View the lineup of presenters and summit details.

RSVP with Erika Wilhite.

The summit is made possible in part with support from Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day at the State Capitol

Over the past year-and-a-half, the Oklahoma Arts Council has overseen the installation of hundreds of artworks at the Oklahoma State Capitol, following a six-year restoration of the historic building. As part of the reinstallation project, more than 20 new works were commissioned, with the goal of sharing a more comprehensive history of the communities and people of our state through the Capitol art. With many of the new works installed in recent months, Oklahomans are invited to experience them in person during a special commemoration event, Indigenous Peoples' Day at the Capitol, on Monday, October 9, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the second-floor rotunda.

Along with brief remarks in the rotunda, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the Capitol to view the new artworks, meet the notable artists from around the region who created the works, and hear about the artists' experiences in creating them.

All are welcome to gather at the People's House on October 9 to celebrate the new artworks by premier artists of our region that tell the story of Oklahoma's people, land, and events!

Read about the new Capitol artwork in this Forbes article.

Native American Artist Forum to Highlight Support for Creative and Career Development

Native American artists living in Oklahoma who are seeking to advance in their creative practice and career development can participate in a special Native American Artist Forum, offered at no cost as a preconference activity of the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference (registration in the conference is not required).

For the forum, artists are invited to the Comanche Nation's Dorothy Sunrise Lorentino Educational Center in Lawton on Tuesday, October 17, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., where they will learn about resources available to support their work and creative practice, and where they will have the opportunity to connect with other Native American artists. Local and national artist support services, grants, and professional development opportunities will be among the information highlighted in the forum.

The forum will be valuable for artists working in any discipline—performing artists, craftspersons, visual artists, writers, filmmakers, creative entrepreneurs, cultural keepers, and more. Artists are encouraged to bring business cards and promotional materials to share.

Native American Artist Forum
Tuesday, October 17
2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Dorothy Sunrise Lorentino Educational Center
1608 SW 9th St.
Lawton (map)
No cost to attend

There is no requirement to register for the conference in order to participate in the forum. RSVP for the forum by contacting Eyakem Gulilat at or (405) 316-0942.

Oklahoma Arts Council Earns Award for Capitol Art Installation Project

The Oklahoma Arts Council took home the award for Outstanding Special Project during the Oklahoma Museum's Association's (OMA) awards program in September. The awards were held during OMA's annual conference, which took place in Broken Arrow.

Special projects are standalone projects that could be related to conservation and preservation. After six years of planning, in 2022, the Oklahoma Arts Council began reinstalling hundreds of artwork throughout six floors of the Oklahoma State Capitol following the historic building's restoration. Works were installed through a plan developed by the Oklahoma Arts Council's visual and public art department, according to a carefully considered thematic and chronological progression, prioritizing the educational experience of thousands of students and visitors who the tour the Capitol each year. In addition to reinstalling hundreds of existing artworks, 21 new works were commissioned, and a museum-quality docent program was launched. The Capitol is the state's largest public art museum.

Tahlequah Artist One of 15 Nationwide Selected for LIFT

Agalisiga "chuj" Mackey (Cherokee Nation) of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is one of 15 artists from around the United States selected as a 2023 awardee of LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists. Mackey is a guitarist and singer/songwriter who writes and sings original country-folk music in the Cherokee language. A student of the Cherokee Language Master Apprenticeship program, his goal is to perpetuate the Cherokee language and culture. His LIFT project will be an album entirely written, sung, and performed in the Cherokee language.

Through the LIFT program, support is provided to early career Native artists with one-year awards to develop and realize new projects. In addition to $10,000 in grant funding, artists receive training facilitated by the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, project development support, and communications and marketing assistance. Artists must be considered as "emerging" in their career, defined in part by having less than 10 years experience, among other criteria. The program encourages artists to uplift communities and advance positive social change.

Read the announcement here.

Learn more about Mackey's work.

Cultural Treasure Wanda Jackson's Portrait Unveiled at Capitol

Oklahoma's 13th Cultural Treasure, Wanda Jackson, took center stage on the second floor of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, September 13, for a special ceremony to dedicate her portrait into the Oklahoma State Capitol Art Collection. The portrait was created by artist Tracey Harris. The event was the first time Jackson had seen the painting, which was a project of the Oklahoma Arts Council's Art in Public Places program, made possible through private support spearheaded by Family and Friends of Wanda Jackson, with private fiscal sponsorship provided by Allied Arts.

The second-floor rotunda was packed with family and friends of Jackson's, an influential figure in the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s, who shared the stage with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others. Her music has impacted women artists across genres and decades of popular music.

Jackson's portrait will be installed on the Capitol's second floor, near portraits of other Oklahoma Cultural Treasures such as Dr. John Hope Franklin, Charles Banks Wilson, and Doc Tate Nevaquaya.

Read about the event at

High Schools Can Register for 2023-24 Poetry Out Loud Competition

Oklahoma high schools can register their schools to participate in the 2023-24 Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud competition. Administered by Oklahoma A+ Schools, the program is a free 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 competition has grown to reach more than four million students in 17,000 schools nationwide. Made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.

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

Teachers can register their schools here for the competition. November 1 is the deadline to register

Nivedita Rai Gains Insight During U.S. Department of State Program at OAC

The Oklahoma Arts Council hosted a special guest from India for several weeks in September as part of a U.S. Department of State exchange program. Nivedita Rai is co-founder of Karghewale, an incubator for female artisan-promoted micro-enterprises. Through her organization, Rai seeks to enable aspiring weaver artisan-entrepreneurs in rural parts of India to directly engage and participate in markets as a way of building robust businesses.

Among the challenges Rai seeks to overcome is reshaping the mindset of traditional artists in her country and helping them think about long-term goals. She says female Indian artists have exemplary skills, but they find it hard to spend time ideating, or coming up with original concepts and ideas—most of the work is industrial, related to mass production, which Rai says poses a risk as artists lose touch with their craft and begin to lose identity and agency in their work.

Currently, Rai is working directly with 27 artists in Karghewale's incubation program. Those artists work with a total of 150 others as a way of multiplying the impact of the program. Artists often journey for 500 kilometers or more to be part of the program and are active in the program for six months, after which Kargehwale puts their work up on its retail website.

When Rai returns to India in a few short weeks, she will take with her observations of her first-ever experience in the U.S. She is already thinking of how galleries could be adapted to function in her country so that artists can earn money for original works. She also envisions collaborations between Oklahoma artists and artists in India, where they could create and market a piece together, over long-distance. 

Rai notes her experience through the exchange program has invigorated her, though she knows there is work to be done to change things for artists in her country.

Oklahoma Arts Council Seeks Curator of Capitol Exhibitions

The Oklahoma Arts Council is accepting applications from experienced art museum professionals interested in serving as the agency's Curator of Capitol Exhibitions. The position develops and implements exhibition plans for four galleries in the Oklahoma State Capitol, including the Betty Price Gallery—home of the Oklahoma State Art Collection—and three temporary rotating galleries.

As exhibitions coordinator, this position identifies and maintains a list of Oklahoma artists for potential selection for the rotating galleries, managing all stages of exhibition development and execution. The curator also collaborates with the Director of Collections Management on creation and maintenance of loan agreement records, insurance coverage, and condition reports.

Applications for the position must be submitted through