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Governor's Arts Awards

The Governor's Arts Awards


44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards

View photos of the 44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards ceremony.

Sixteen individuals and three organizations were honored for their contributions to the arts during the 44th Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Awards on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. The awards were presented by Governor J. Kevin Stitt during a special ceremony beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the second floor rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The event was free and open to the public.

Oklahoma Cultural Treasure
The Governor of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Arts Council may designate an individual as an Oklahoma Cultural Treasure if that individual is considered especially precious or valuable by a particular period, class, community or population. The honoree was:

Joy Harjo

Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador
The Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador award honors native Oklahomans who have made an impact in the arts, achieving national and international acclaim for their work. The honoree was:

Kristin Chenoweth

The Governor's Award recognizes longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts. The honoree was:

Barbara Smith (Miami)

The Business in the Arts Award recognizes individuals, businesses and corporations that exhibit outstanding support of the arts in Oklahoma. The honoree was:

Ambler Architects (Bartlesville)

The Arts in Education Award recognizes an individual, organization, school, educator, or group for their outstanding leadership and service in the arts benefiting youth and/or arts in education. Honorees were:

Ashley Wells (The Village)
Bring Back the Music (Spencer)
Hui Cha Poos (Edmond)
Randy Tinker Smith and Jenna Smith LaViolette (Pawhuska)

The Community Service Award recognizes significant contributions to the arts in specific Oklahoma communities in the areas of leadership and volunteerism. Honorees were:

Alberto Rivas (Lawton Fort Sill)
David Hornbeek (Edmond)
Dian Jordan (Broken Bow)
Donald Moore (Okemah)
Red Dirt Relief Fund (Tulsa)
Wallace Owens (Guthrie)

The Media in the Arts Award recognizes members of the media who demonstrate commitment to the arts in Oklahoma documented through public awareness support and fairness, initiative, creativity, and professionalism in reporting. The honoree was:

Dennis Spielman (Norman)

The George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award recognizes Oklahoma government officials for their outstanding support of the arts. Honorees were:

Dr. Bob Blackburn (Oklahoma City)
Lonnie Yearwood (Colony)

A Special Recognition Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made unique contributions in support of the arts. The honoree was:

Harvey Pratt (Guthrie)

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About the Governor's Arts Awards

Since 1975, the Governor's Arts Awards has recognized hundreds of individuals and organizations whose efforts have impacted the arts in their communities or throughout the state. The awards are presented by the Governor of Oklahoma during a special ceremony at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Nominations may be submitted during the published nomination period. Awards are determined by a selection committee comprised of members of the Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board. The Governor's Arts Awards ceremony takes place in the fourth floor rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

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View photos of the 44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards ceremony.

Changes to the Governor's Arts Awards

In 1975, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Office of the Governor of Oklahoma began partnering to offer the Governor's Arts Awards as an annual event to honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the arts in our state. The awards have been an important means for providing special recognition of Oklahomans whose efforts have strengthened communities and schools through the arts. With a new reality in state arts funding resulting from a series of state budget cuts, and as the Oklahoma Arts Council continued evolving its services to meet needs within our state, changes to the Governor's Arts Awards became necessary. Following the 2019 Governor's Arts Awards, the event schedule was altered to take take place on a two-year cycle. The Oklahoma Arts Council remains committed to presenting the Governor's Arts Awards and properly recognizing Oklahomans for their contributions to the arts.

Questions about changes to the Governor's Arts Awards may be directed to our Director of Marketing & Communications.


Since the first Governor's Arts Awards in 1975, hundreds of individuals and organizations from across Oklahoma have been recognized for their efforts in the arts.

View a list of Governor's Arts Awards honorees.


Governor's Arts Awards nominees must be current, full-time Oklahoma residents or organizations that work in and for the benefit of Oklahoma. Previous recipients of The Governor's Award are not eligible. Nominations for arts organizations, employees of arts organizations, or educators should reflect activity beyond normal expectations or responsibilities.


The following is used as criteria by the selection committee. Submissions are not required to address all criteria:



The Selection Committee reserves the right to honor a recipient in a category of its choice. 


Nominations are accepted during the published nominating period. Nominations require a two- to three-page typewritten narrative that addresses the nominee's efforts related to the criteria listed on this page. Up to three pages of optional support materials are accepted, but not required. Support materials may include news clippings, letters of recommendation, and other items that demonstrate the nominee's impact. Audio and video materials are not be accepted.


The following are made available during the Governor's Arts Awards ceremony:

If you plan to attend the Governor's Arts Awards ceremony and have needs related to accessibility not listed above, please contact us at (405) 521-2931 or It is the goal of the Oklahoma Arts Council staff to meet the needs of all our constituents who wish to attend the Governor's Arts Awards.

For more information, contact our Director of Marketing & Communications.