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Oklahoma Arts Council News

April 2021

Governor Stitt Appoints Tonkawa’s Joe Russell Kreger as 2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 22, 2021) – Joe Russell Kreger has been appointed by Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt to serve as the 2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. Kreger’s appointment marks his second tenure as laureate, having previously been appointed in 1997 by former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating.

Read the news release...

Register for OFTA's (Virtual) Arts & Culture Day 2021

Registration is now open for the April 7 virtual event that will bring together art supporters from across the state. Oklahomans for the Arts' annual Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day will be held online this year, providing artists, arts organizations, business and community leaders, educators, and other arts advocates a venue for not only gathering with the creative community, but also for hearing about specific efforts underway to strengthen the arts and cultural sector through public policy and more.

While participants won't be able to gather under the Capitol dome this year, the virtual event will feature plenty of opportunities to see and hear from others in the state arts and cultural community. This year's event will feature two panel sessions, including:

Session 1
"Arts & Culture Advocacy"
Wednesday, April 7
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Panelists: Jerrod Shouse (arts lobbyist); Amber Sharples (Oklahoma Arts Council); Representative Toni Hasenbeck (Oklahoma District 65); Representative Mark Lawson (Oklahoma District 30)

Session 2
"The Importance of the Arts in Oklahoma"
Wednesday, April 7
1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
Panelists: Randy Cohen (Americans for the Arts); Margaret Keough (Mid-America Arts Alliance); Kym Koch Thompson (Koch Communications); Phil Busey (Delaware Resource Group)

There is no fee to participate in Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day.

Register here to participate. (Zoom links for each session will be emailed following registration).

Apply for Shuttered Venue Operators Grants Beginning April 8

Beginning April 8, eligible organizations can apply for Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Through the program, live music venues, theatrical producers, performing arts organizations, relevant museum operators, and other eligible entities that were in operation on January 1, 2019, can receive up to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million, whichever is less. Funds can be used for payroll, rent, utility payments, mortgage payments, worker protection expenditures, administrative costs, payments to independent contractors, and other expenses. The program is made possible by a $15 billion federal investment for venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Organizations are urged to gather relevant documents in advance in order to submit their applications as early as possible. The SBA has indicated there will be high demand for the program.

See 8 things to do now to get ready for SVOG.

Go to for complete details, video tutorials, and more.

Emergency Grants Available for Winter Storm Damage

Oklahoma cultural organizations that sustained damage and incurred related costs during recent winter storms may be able to get assistance through a newly announced grant from Oklahoma Humanities.

Oklahoma Humanities has set aside $50,000 to support at-risk collections; collections digitization, consultations, restoration, or replacement; exhibit restoration or replacement; and, other eligible storm-related expenses. Damages must be directly related to the February 17, 2021, winter storm.

Awards of up to $3,000 will be made to nonprofits. Deadline to apply is July 1, 2021.

Click here to learn more and to apply.

OSDE Introduces Oklahoma Art Tech Grants for PK-5 Schools

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has announced a new grant program aimed at restoring and sustaining arts education in Oklahoma schools and expanding access to well-rounded courses. Funding available through OSDE's new Oklahoma Art Tech Grant will provide fine arts education in PK-5 schools that currently have limited or no arts programs. Applications are now being accepted from schools interested in bringing an Art Tech Visual Arts, Dance, Drama/Theatre, or Music program. The program is structured to provide high-quality standards-based fine arts courses, monthly arts experiences led by teaching artists, implementation support, and related art supplies.

Schools can apply for the grant here. Deadline to apply is May 14.

The Oklahoma Art Tech Grant was made possible through OSDE's partnership with the Oklahoma Arts Council, University of Central Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, the Osage Nation, and the University of Oklahoma's Center for Educational Development and Research.

Native Launchpad Award Advancing Indigenous Performance

The Western Arts Alliance's Advancing Indigenous Performance program is accepting applications for the Native Launchpad Award through May 4. Applications are open to U.S.-based Indigenous performing artists.

The Native Launchpad program provides participants with tools and resources to help them further their careers and learn about the world of arts presenting and management. The cornerstone of the Western Arts Alliance's national initiative to create new touring and presenting opportunities for U.S.-based Indigenous performing artists, artists that are selected for the program receive direct financial and travel support, mentoring, professional development, and promotional benefits valued at $40,000.

Learn more about the program is this call for artists. Deadline to apply is May 4.

$10K Grants to Implement Community Heart & Soul Model

Seed funding of $10,000 is available to towns of up to 30,000 residents and federally recognized tribal nations interested in implementing the Community Heart & Soul program's model of community development. Developed and field-tested over a decade in partnership with over 90 communities, the model brings people together with their elected officials to build stronger, healthier, and more vibrant communities. The process focuses on using local culture and history to help communities identify and leverage their unique character.

Through the program, Community Heart & Soul staff and coaches work with local residents to set goals, share stories, and find common ground on what matters most to the community. Action plans are developed, with long-term implementation in mind.

A match in funding is required of the participating municipality. Implementation of the program takes between 18 months and two years. See towns that have participated.

Applications may be submitted at any time. Download grant guidelines.

Learn about Community Heart & Soul.

Challenge America Grants Due April 22

Challenge America is a grant program of the National Endowment for the Arts that extends the reach of the arts to underserved populations. An abbreviated application and robust technical support are features of the grant program, which provides up to $10,000 in support to projects in all artistic disciplines.

The category is often an entry point for organizations seeking funding through the Arts Endowment. It is rooted in principles that recognize the existence of barriers and limitations for some organizations and populations.

Through April 22, nonprofit organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities can apply.

Congressional Art Competition for High School Students

High school students across Oklahoma can submit artwork for the 2021 Congressional Art Competition, which for nearly 30 years has allowed lawmakers to encourage and recognize artistic talent of young constituents in their districts.

Winning artwork from each Congressional district is displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol, and winning artists and a guest may be flown to Washington, D.C., for a reception and awards presentation.

Deadlines are set by the individual House member and are available on their respective websites. View your member's website for guidelines.

  • 1st District of Oklahoma - Congressman Kevin Hern (website). Deadline April 21.

  • 2nd District of Oklahoma - Congressman Markwayne Mullin (website). Deadline April 30.

  • 3rd District of Oklahoma - Congressman Frank Lucas (website). Deadline April 23.

  • 4th District of Oklahoma - Congressman Tom Cole (website). Deadline April 30.

  • 5th District of Oklahoma - Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (website). Deadline TBA.

View winning artwork from 2020.

Bethany High School Student Wins Poetry Out Loud Contest

Stephanie Thanscheidt of Bethany High School took top honors at the 2020-2021 Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud competition on March 4. Presented by Oklahoma A+ Schools, the state finals were held virtually this year.

In May, Thanscheidt will compete as the Oklahoma state champion at the national semifinals, which will be streamed on the National Endowment for the Arts website.

Poetry Out Loud is a free poetry recitation contest for high school students, made available to public and private schools statewide. The program helps students learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Among the benefits of Poetry Out Loud, students gain public speaking skills, self-confidence, and an expanded understanding of literary heritage.

The Oklahoma Poetry Out Loud program is managed by Oklahoma A+ Schools and is made possible through a partnership with the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and Poetry Foundation.

Curriculum Spotlight: Nicole Emmons' 'Let's Animate!'

Artist Nicole Emmons' contribution to Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum resources can help teenagers turn their cell phones into tools for arts education and filmmaking. Through six downloadable sessions, Emmons' lessons take students through all stages of creating a short animated film, from research and development to post-production. Scriptwriting, storyboarding, cinematography, production, character development, directing, editing, and more are covered. In addition, students will learn the 12 basic principles of animation.

To help students put the finishing touches on their projects, Emmons' final session walks students through basic stop motion editing software that can be downloaded on their devices for free. Special effects, music, and voice overs can be incorporated.

Access Nicole Emmons' "Let's Animate" sessions here.

Sterling Hayes Assisting with Growing Public Art Program

Sterling Hayes has joined the Oklahoma Arts Council as a part time assistant for the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program. Hayes previously managed programs and events for the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, where she gained valuable experience in budgeting, committee coordination, and communications with artists and others. In her new role, she assists with a wide range of administrative and financial functions for the state's percent-for-public-art program, managed by the Oklahoma Arts Council. New state projects have resulted in growth of the program.

Hayes says she is excited about joining the Oklahoma Arts Council staff, describing it as a "passionate and driven team" that benefits from investments in well-being and professional development resources.

A 2016 graduate of Oklahoma State University, Hayes received her degree in studio art, with a minor in art history. She cites an early interest in her grandmother's Native American art collection and visits to art galleries and museums as a teenager as leading to a natural pursuit of a career in the arts. Outside of her role with the Oklahoma Arts Council, Hayes continues to make time to create pottery in her home studio. Her specialty? Creating first dinnerware sets for newlyweds.

Constructing a Vibrant State

With a father and husband who are both construction contractors, Hayes has been around construction sites her entire life. Through construction, she has found an additional outlet for her creativity, as she has often helped with designs and finishes of different types of builds. For Hayes, her new job is another opportunity to bring together her background in art, creativity, and construction, as she assists with a public art program that is building a more vibrant Oklahoma.

Hayes can be reached at or (405) 521-2229.