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Oklahoma Arts Council News

March 2024

OFTA's Arts & Culture Day at the Capitol Set for April 11

Arts organizations and supporters of the arts across the state are invited to Arts & Culture Day 2024. Hosted by the statewide arts advocacy organization Oklahomans for the Arts (OFTA), the event will take place at the Oklahoma State Capitol on April 11. Participants should plan on staying for a full day of activities.

Guest speakers, performances, and more will be featured during the annual Arts & Culture Day event. Staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council will be on hand to visit with attendees. The day is an ideal opportunity to meet and catch up with others in the arts community from around Oklahoma. Hundreds of participants are expected.

OFTA will release a complete schedule for their Arts & Culture Day 2024 soon. A registration link is available on OFTA's website.

**RELATEDStay tuned for a special announcement about an event being planned by the Oklahoma Arts Council with Allied Arts OKC and Arts Alliance Tulsa in conjunction with OFTA's Arts & Culture Day 2024!

Busts of Clara Luper, Hannah Atkins Dedicated at State Capitol

Two works of art honoring consequential figures in Oklahoma Black history were dedicated at the Oklahoma State Capitol in February. Working with the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, the Oklahoma Arts Council formally dedicated bronze busts of Clara Luper and Hannah Atkins as additions to the Oklahoma State Capitol Art Collection. In attendance were members of Luper's and Atkins' families.

Created by Oklahoma City artist LaQuincey Reed, the busts are on display in the first floor of the Capitol as part of a thematic exhibition of artworks representing Oklahoma Black history. 

Luper was a history teacher who led the 1958 Katz Drug Store sit-in in Oklahoma City, a pivotal event that led to integration in establishments across the city and inspired momentum in the civil rights movement nationwide.

Atkins was the first African American woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Beginning in 1968, she served for 12 years in the House, supporting efforts to improve healthcare, child welfare, mental health services, and civil rights. President Jimmy Carter later appointed Atkins to serve on the General Assembly of the United Nations. From 1987 to 1991, she served as Oklahoma Secretary of State.

Upcoming Webinars Designed to Help Arts Serve All Oklahomans

Empowering organizations and individuals to have the broadest impact possible, the Oklahoma Arts Council is offering a series of webinars focused on the tools that can make the arts accessible to more Oklahomans. Facilitated by the Oklahoma Arts Council's Arts Learning in Communities Director, Erika Wilhite, the 90-minute webinars are scheduled at 11:00 a.m. over a series of upcoming dates throughout the spring.

Learn more and register below for the webinars that can help equip you expand your service and impact to your community:

"Creating Experiences for Neurodivergent Audiences"
Friday, March 8
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

"Creating Accessible Exhibitions for People with Blindness and Low Vision"
Monday, April 15
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

"Audio Descriptions for Performing Arts Experiences"
Wednesday, May 1
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

Save the Date for Creative Aging Exchange II in Tulsa this May

In 2022, the Oklahoma Arts Council held the first-ever Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange, a day-long professional development convening that included presentations, panel discussions, performances, and breakout sessions centered on ways to improve quality of life for older Oklahomans.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the Oklahoma Arts Council will present the Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange II at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. The full-day convening is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The free event is open to everyone with programming ideal for arts and cultural organizations, teaching artists, and individuals from health, aging, and social service organizations.

Registration information will be available soon. Save the date and plan to join us for a day of creative aging conversations at the Philbrook Museum in May!

Oklahoma Route 66 Grant to Support Placemaking, Preservation, and More

As the centennial of America's Mother Road—Route 66—approaches in 2026, the State of Oklahoma is organizing programs and events to mark the occasion. Among the state's efforts is funding to support the revitalization of the Route 66 experience in Oklahoma.

Launched by the Oklahoma Route 66 Commission, the Oklahoma Route 66 Grant program is available to eligible organizations in communities located along Route 66. Eligible entities include municipalities and counties, nonprofit organizations, and state government entities.

Funding may be used to support historic preservation and economic development within Route 66 communities. Placemaking, facility enhancement, preservation efforts, new construction, planning, signage, and other projects are eligible. Awards will range from $25,000 to $2 million.

Deadline to apply is July 19, 2024.

Learn about the Oklahoma Route 66 Grant here.

Challenge America Grants from NEA Grants for Smaller Communities

Support for arts projects of smaller organizations nationwide is available through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grants. The program offers $10,000 in funding through an abbreviated application process. It is designed to extend the reach of the arts to groups and communities that are underserved and is an excellent entry point for organizations that are new to NEA funding.

Available to nonprofit organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities, Challenge America funds a wide variety of projects across artistic disciplines. Arts programming, marketing activities, organizational planning and more can be supported.

Applications for projects scheduled to begin in 2025 are due April 30, 2024.

Apply for Funding to Support Innovative, New Original Works

Creative Capital is welcoming applications for funding for innovative, original new projects in visual arts, performing arts, literature, film, and more.

Creative Capital Awards are unrestricted project grants that can be used over a multi-year period. Designed to support challenging, risk-taking projects and groundbreaking ideas, the funding is available to artists nationwide. Artists must be 25 years of age with at least five years of professional artist practice.

Letters of inquiry for Creative Capital Awards are due April 4.

Learn more here.

Interchange Artist Grant from M-AAA

Artists from Oklahoma and the six-state Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) region can apply for the Interchange artist grant program to receive $25,000 in support of socially-engaged creative practice.

Open to artists who are 21 years or older who create social-practice based work and have at least a three-year history of that practice outside of university, the 18-month program features two professional development retreats in Kansas City, Missouri, quarterly virtual one-on-one mentoring session with artist peer facilitators, and quarterly virtual 90-minute workshops during the granting period.

Socially-engaged creative practice is defined for the program as working with communities to make change. The program is designed around the idea that artists possess skills, training, and vision to collaborate across sector to stimulate dialogue, activate neighborhoods, and creatively respond to civic challenges.

Applications for the program are open through April 15. Learn about Interchange 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

Scott Cowan, the longest serving member of the Oklahoma Arts Council team, marks his 25th anniversary on staff in March. As Publications/Web Director, Cowan's imprint is discernible across the website, logos, and other visual elements representing the agency. Cowan has designed the agency's websites and was the architect behind the agency's original online grant system—the first of its kind in Oklahoma state government.

Chandra Boyd, Deputy Director, began her service for the agency as Arts Learning in Communities director in 2014. In that role, she helped launch the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative and spearheaded a pilot arts program at the Norman Veterans Center. In her current role, Boyd provides oversight of agency programs and operations, including human resources and policy development. She facilitated the development of the agency's 2021-2025 strategic plan, organizing town hall presentations and community discussions across the state.

Jennifer Allen-Barron is the agency's Arts Education Director, a position she has held since 2014. Celebrating her 10th year on staff, Allen-Barron has stewarded numerous initiatives of the agency tht have strengthened state arts education policy, including the updating of fine arts academic standards and the launch of new grant programs increasing the agency's investment in schools across Oklahoma.

Congratulations to these longtime staff members on celebrating their milestone anniversaries with the Oklahoma Arts Council!

Erin Latham Finds Common Thread in Joining Oklahoma Arts Council

For Erin Latham, this January meant more than just the turn of a calendar—it also meant the start of a new job and a shift from working independently as a practicing and teaching artist to working within the structure of a formal organization. Latham, who holds a PhD from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, joined the Oklahoma Arts Council as Curator of Capitol Exhibitions at the start of the year where she oversees planning and installation of exhibitions in the galleries of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Latham is upbeat about the change, where her day-to-day activities of curating art exhibitions are likely to be more consistent than the wide variety of activities in her previous "gig work," which included artist residencies, arts education, and grant writing. Despite the shift, she plans on bringing to her new role many elements of her previous work.

"Collaboration is a skillset that works well in any workplace," she says, noting the collaboration involved in her independent work with other artists and students. Latham also cites project and time management as skills necessary to being a professional artist.

Among the differences she's noticed is the level of communication, which she describes as a daily practice, which contrasts from working more independently as an artist. Latham views the more frequent communication as rewarding because she gets to share her work with colleagues and get feedback from leadership.

As she embarks on her new role, Latham is eager to begin working with artists to identify and develop bodies of work ready for showing in the Capitol. Having an exhibition in the prestigious space, with a broad audience, can be game changing for artists, Latham says. She also has in mind creating educational opportunities tied to the Oklahoma State Art Collection in The Betty Price Gallery.

"People can expect to experience the State Art Collection like never before," Latham states. "I am thinking about lots of different themes, from honoring past legacies, representing different works and artists, and considering how works fit together aesthetically and historically."

An artist herself, Latham's work is rooted in multiple practices, but with a common thread that individuals are part of a greater whole. It is an artistic philosophy that has new meaning for Latham as she transitions from independent work to being part of the Oklahoma Arts Council team.

Latham can be reached at and (405) 574-2402.