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Oklahoma Arts Council News

July 2024

Artists Can Submit Portfolios for State Capitol Exhibitions

One of the ways the Oklahoma Arts Council supports current artists in our state is by curating exhibitions of visual art at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Capitol is home to three temporary rotating gallery spaces—the NorthEast, and Governor's galleries—where works of art have been displayed for decades for the enjoyment of Oklahoma families, students on fields trips, Capitol employees, elected officials, and visitors to our state from around the world.

On hiatus in recent years during the building's restoration, Capitol gallery exhibitions are returning in earnest, with the Oklahoma Arts Council now seeking portfolio submissions from artists across the state interested in showing their art at the Capitol.

portfolio submission form is available on the Oklahoma Arts Council website. In addition to artistic excellence and artistic merit, factors taken into consideration in the selection of artists include the artist's connection to the state, professional status, physical nature of the artwork in relation to the exhibit space, and statewide representation. Exhibitions rotate every 60 days.

Learn more about Capitol gallery exhibitions here.

Teaching Artists, Classroom Art Teachers Invited to Aug. 2 Convening

Teaching artists and classroom fine arts teachers across Oklahoma are invited to participate in a special convening that will take place as the start of the new school year approaches. The Oklahoma Arts Council is hosting the gathering on August 2 in Oklahoma City (location TBA soon!).

Offered at no cost, the convening will include a full-day program, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., for teaching artists that will feature a session on the benefits of joining the agency's Oklahoma Teaching Artist Roster. Other sessions for teaching artists will focus on marketing strategies, opportunities in the field of creative aging, and using Oklahoma Fine Arts Standards to approach schools with residency ideas. A photographer will be on hand in the afternoon to provide free headshots.

For classroom fine arts teachers, a morning program will include a panel of funding organizations that will highlight grants available for schools.

Lunch will be provided at 12:00 p.m. for all participants.

Reserve a Seat!

The Oklahoma Teaching Artist Convening begins at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, August 2. Participants are not required to be members of the agency's roster. Stay tuned for an announcement about a location. To reserve a seat, or for questions, contact or (405) 249-7987.

Join the Oklahoma Teaching Artist Roster

The Oklahoma Arts Council is currently accepting applications from teaching artists interested in joining the roster. Visit to submit an application.

Training Begins July 17 for Capitol Docents—Apply Soon!

Training for individuals interested in serving as volunteer docents at the Oklahoma State Capitol begins July 17. The Oklahoma Arts Council is currently accepting applications for the Oklahoma State Capitol Docent Program. Through the program, individuals receive training and resources equipping them to lead people on tours through the historic building.

As Oklahoma's largest public art museum, the Capitol uniquely offers a backdrop of history, government, and art. Thousands of people from around the world, including school children from across Oklahoma, visit the Capitol each year, and trained docents are essential to providing them with a one-of-a-kind experience.

Six weekly two-hour training sessions led by the Oklahoma Arts Council's Curator of Education and Engagement cover everything needed for docents to be prepared to lead tours.

Retired individuals, former educators, art and history enthusiasts, corporate volunteers, military veterans, civic leaders, and others can make ideal docent candidates.

Training cycles begin:

July 17, 2024 (six weekly two-hour sessions)
September 11, 2024 (six weekly two-hour sessions)

Apply now to take part in the next cycle of trainings to become an Oklahoma State Capitol Docent.

For more information, contact Amanda Harmer, Oklahoma Arts Council Curator of Education and Engagement, at or (405) 521-6813.

Coming Soon: Opportunities for Training, Funding in Creative Aging

Following a recent grant award from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) that could total up to $250,000 per year for three years, the Oklahoma Arts Council will soon announce additional opportunities for organizations and individuals throughout the state to receive resources for creative aging programs.

Since the launch of the Oklahoma Creative Aging Initiative in 2021, the agency has held a series of online creative aging trainings and two in-person Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange events, laying groundwork and building capacity statewide for serving older Oklahomans through community-based arts education programs. Select trainings have been offered in partnership with Lifetime Arts, a national leader and consulting organization in the creative aging field.

Through the TSET grant, which is aimed at improving health outcomes in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Arts Council plans to offer a grant program for organizations specifically designed to fund creative aging programs, and the agency is creating a structured training program for arts administrators, teaching artists, health and social service workers, and others interested in learning how to deliver high quality creative aging programs in their communities.

Stay tuned for upcoming Oklahoma Arts Council announcements on these creative aging funding and training opportunities! For questions about these upcoming programs, contact

Summary of Native Cultural Practitioners and Artists Survey Released

Aligned with the agency's five-year strategic plan, a recent focus of the Oklahoma Arts Council has been to gain understanding of the demographics and needs of individual Native American creatives and artists living in Oklahoma.

Among the efforts to accomplish this, in 2021, the agency began collaborating with arts expert America Meredith to conduct a survey of Native artists and creatives, designed to assess factors ranging from creative practices and venues to barriers, priorities in needed assistance, and current support from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Questions were crafted by Meredith following listening sessions with three artists working in Indigenous art forms.

An executive summary of the survey, which garnered 119 relevant responses from individuals affiliated with 26 different tribal nations, is now available to the field here. Results show that 21 percent of respondents make a living as a full-time artist—noted by the author as an impressive statistic. Funding and time were the most frequently cited barriers facing Native artists and creative practitioners. Needs listed by respondents included photography and video for documenting work; small business resources, copyright law, and bookkeeping; web development and marketing; and, workshop presentation opportunities among other needs.

Included in the report from Meredith were recommended next steps: mapping Native art and creative institutions; opening dialogue with tribes and other groups by sharing the survey results; sharing best practices on serving Native artists, and more. Click here to view the summary.

Host the Oklahoma Arts Conference in Your Community

The next Oklahoma Arts Conference will take place in fall 2025, and in the coming months, the Oklahoma Arts Council will select a community to host the convening of hundreds from the state's arts sector.

Communities that host the conference benefit from the influx of people who book hotel rooms and patronize area restaurants and businesses. The host also receives significant exposure statewide and beyond through marketing efforts for the conference.

Now through August 15, communities interested in hosting the event can submit a proposal outlining their vision for serving as host. Among the requirements for hosting are hotel rooms for up to 350 guests; a large room or banquet room for general sessions; at least four breakout session spaces; related audio/visual capabilities; and catering options. Proposals should include a list of stakeholders who could be included on the community committee, and examples of artists and programs that could be featured. Proposals must be submitted online here. Required support materials include price quotes and at least one letter of support.

Click here to submit a proposal to host the 2025 Oklahoma Arts Conference.

Bring Performers to Your Community with Regional Tour Program

The new application cycle for Mid-America Arts Alliance's (M-AAA) Regional Touring Program opens in July. Through the program, presenting organizations across Oklahoma can receive support to bring in performing artists from states in the region.

Oklahoma's regional arts organization, M-AAA serves five other area states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas. Oklahoma organizations can apply for funding of up to 50 percent of the fee of artists who are on the touring rosters of these states. Awards of up to 25 percent may be made for organizations who present artists not on a state touring roster. Presenters in rural communities may receive an additional 10 percent of the artist's fee.

Programs must include a feature presentation (concert, performance, etc.) and an outreach engagement (workshop, artist talk, etc.). Applications are accepted on a rolling deadline, and grants are distributed on a first-come, first served basis. Applications will be available soon, so check this page often.

Nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, units of local government, and federally recognized tribal communities are eligible. Organizations may receive funding for up to three projects in a fiscal year, with an aggregate amount totaling $15,000.

Learn more about the Regional Touring Program

Oklahoma's Woods County a Top 30 Rural Arts Destination

Woods County in northwest Oklahoma has been ranked tenth among the 30 top rural arts destinations in America by SMU DataArts. The county is home to towns including Alva, Waynoka, Freedom, with institutions such as Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Graceful Arts Center, and Alva Community Theatre offering arts programming. The Nescatunga Arts Festival takes place in Alva in June.

Arts vibrancy is calculated by SMU DataArts by drawing on 13 unique measurescovering aspects of supply, demand, and public support for the arts, adjusted for cost of living and population size. Characteristics of arts-vibrant rural areas included popularity as tourist destinations, higher-than-average household incomes, presence of major foundations that support the arts, plethora of small and mid-sized arts organizations, and presence of anchor institutions that integrate arts programming.

See the Top 30 Most Arts-Vibrant Rural Counties list here.

SMU DataArts is a project of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. SMU DataArts provides evidence-based insights to build strong, vibrant arts communities.

Walmart Spark Good Local Grants

Accepted on a quarterly basis, applications for funding through Spark Good Local Grants, a program of the Walmart Foundation, are due July 15. The grants are available through an open application process to eligible organizations operating locally and directly benefiting the service area of the facility from where an organization is requesting funding.

Ranging from $250 to $5,000, Spark Good Local Grants are awarded in line with the philanthropic priorities of the foundation, which include creating opportunity, advancing sustainbility, and strengthening community. They are awarded to nonprofit organizations, entities of state local government, and K-12 schools.

View program guidelines here.

Celebrating Staff Milestones

The staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council is the agency's most valued resource. Each member is committed to public service, cherishing the opportunity to meet needs of the sector and build a stronger Oklahoma through the arts.

Staff Anniversaries

Erika Wilhite marks her third year on staff with the Oklahoma Arts Council in July. As director of the agency's arts learning programs, Wilhite oversees the Oklahoma Creative Aging Initiative and the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative. Among her recent efforts, she spearheaded the agency's successful application for creative aging funding from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. She also organized the third iteration of the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Summit in October 2023.

Martyna Sandoval celebrates her second year on staff with the agency in July. In her role, Sandoval is the point person for the grants department, where she assists organizations through the process of applying and managing their grants from the Council. She has played an integral role in managing the agency's recent switch to the Fluxx grant system, and in the agency's receipt of submissions and administration of nearly 200 Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants through the state's $10 million investment.

Congratulations to Erika and Martyna on making a difference in the arts sector through their years of service with the Oklahoma Arts Council!