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Students at the Oklahoma Arts Institute

Why the Arts Matter

Oklahoma Arts Council funding helps communities across Oklahoma strengthen their economies, improve education, preserve their culture and heritage, and enrich quality of life.

Before Governor Henry Bellmon created the Oklahoma Arts Council in 1965, Oklahomans often had to travel to large metropolitan cities or coastal areas of the U.S. to experience the arts. Since 1965, funding through the Oklahoma Arts Council has allowed Oklahomans in communities statewide to benefit from access to the arts.

Here's why the arts matter:


A study released in 2017 shows that the nonprofit arts and cultural industry in Oklahoma generates $872.8 million for the state's economy and supports more than 29,000 full-time jobs. Oklahoma Arts Council funding makes it possible for organizations to provide the arts programming that strengthens our economy.

The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations & Their Audiences in the State of Oklahoma

Download the 2023 State of the Arts report


Studies consistently demonstrate the arts' impact on education and overall student achievement. Students with four years of arts education in high school score significantly higher on college entrance exams than students with little or no arts education. Arts education has been shown to increase performance in non-arts subjects like math and science. Other proven benefits include an increase in school attendance and civic engagement, and a decrease in anti-social behaviors. Oklahoma Arts Council funding makes arts education programs possible in schools and communities throughout the state.


The arts are important for preserving and carrying on our unique heritage. Festivals throughout the state recall and celebrate our diverse cultural roots. Tourists from all over the world come to Oklahoma to attend arts and cultural events and learn about our proud traditions. The arts offer an engaging way to teach children and students about our history. Our funding makes it possible to preserve and share Oklahoma's compelling story.

Quality of Life

Communities that offer vibrant arts and cultural amenities are more likely to attract young professionals, retain young talent, appeal to businesses, and provide a setting where people want to live and raise families. Programs funded by the Oklahoma Arts Council provide the quality of life many people desire.