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Oklahoma Arts Council News

July 2021

Hopeful Outlook Beginning to Take Shape for Fiscal Year 2022

By Amber Sharples

July 1 marked the beginning of another state fiscal year, and it is one that stands in stark contrast to last year, with positive signs of a rebuilding stage taking shape for the arts sector. Though there is tremendous work to be done and a long road ahead to recovery over the coming years, the start of the new fiscal year is a good time to embrace the dawn of a new era for the arts.

Our Budget

You may have read our recent announcement about the 7.45 percent increase we received in our state appropriation. Our Council and staff are grateful to the Governor and state Legislature for the additional investment in our sector. I am also happy to report that our state partnership grant from the National Endowment for the Arts continues to increase as Congress invests more in the federal agency for the arts. This is certainly welcome news as we look to help the sector begin to get on better financial footing in the next year.

This fiscal year will include the launch of a new Oklahoma Arts Council grant program that meets goals in our 2021-2025 strategic plan. Soon, Rural Opportunity Grants will be available to eligible organizations in more than 30 counties that have not received direct funding from our agency in the past few years. Many Oklahomans do not have arts education or arts experiences in their community. Prioritizing geographically isolated communities aligns with our mission to ensure arts education and arts access for all Oklahomans across all 77 counties. Expect an announcement about this opportunity in the near future.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is mindful that recovery and rebuilding of the arts sector is a top priority for education, quality of life and economic development across Oklahoma. The pandemic's impact on our sector will require our creativity and collaboration to redefine how we operate and work in the post-pandemic environment. I am confident that the arts are equipped with the tools to thrive in this ecosystem, but we know that resources are necessary to make our goals a reality. We will continue our efforts to secure additional relief funding for the sector. We look forward to having more to share about this in the months ahead.


Our staff is now back to working full-time in the Oklahoma Arts Council offices in Oklahoma City. Like many of you, our staff had been working from home for more than a year. It is my sincere hope that during that time you experienced the same high level of service and responsiveness to your needs from our staff that we expect to provide. Your patience and understanding over the past year has been very much appreciated.

Our staff is beyond ready to get back into communities across Oklahoma. One opportunity where we look forward to reconvening with you is the Oklahoma Arts Conference, which will take place this fall. Expect an announcement about that soon.

Small Grants Available

The arts have a vital role to play in helping Oklahomans begin to feel a sense of normalcy. If your organization or school is planning arts programming that fits our criteria for Small Grant Support or Small Grants for Schools, applications are now being accepted for funding for the new fiscal year. I encourage you to visit our website to learn how our grant funding can help your organization or school provide the arts programming that will help our communities mend.

Amber Sharples is Executive Director of the Oklahoma Arts Council.

NEA Now Offering Relief Funding from American Rescue Plan

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is now offering funding made available through the American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March. The federal arts agency is "opening the doors wide" to applications for the pandemic relief funds, encouraging nonprofit arts and culture organizations and local arts agencies that have never applied for NEA funding in the past to submit one. The Arts Endowment is also encouraging applications from organizations that serve populations with limited access to the arts, and those that have small or medium-sized budgets. Workshops, question-and-answer sessions, and other resources are available to assist organizations new to federal funding.

Organizations that received a CARES Act grant are eligible, however budget cost items must not overlap. Grants can be used to fund staff salaries, fees for artists and/or contractual personnel, facilities costs, marketing, and more.

Eligible organizations include 501(c)(3) nonprofits, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities. Deadline for arts and cultural organizations is August 12, 2021. Deadline for local arts agencies for subgranting is July 22, 2021.

Go to for full details.

Call to Artists for Online Fine Arts Curriculum

The Oklahoma Arts Council is pleased to make available an opportunity for artists to get paid for creating lessons for the agency's Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum page. Oklahoma artists with experience as educators can submit proposals for up to six sequential lessons for the opportunity to earn up to $1,440 in compensation. Curriculum should be grade-level specific and should address appropriate Oklahoma Academic Standards. Fine arts should be the primary focus, however curriculum may secondarily address other areas such as math, English Language Arts, and other subjects.

To ensure Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum reflects a wide range of artistic disciplines, proposals focused on folk and traditional art forms will receive priority consideration.

Artists should be prepared to upload an up-to-date resume that includes artistic and educational experience; a sample of a lesson plan they have developed; and, a sample of a rubric or assessment tool they have developed. Deadline to submit proposals is July 19.

View full guidelines and submit proposals at

Hometown Grant Program Helps Small Towns Thrive

T-Mobile has committed $25 million over the next five year to help small towns across America thrive. Through a partnership with Smart Growth America and Main Street America, T-Mobile's Hometown Grants program is awarding 100 towns per year with funding of up to $50,000 for projects aimed at building or refreshing community spaces that foster connections. Projects that bring people together through arts and culture may qualify.

Proposals are accepted on a quarterly basis. Fall applications are open from July through September. Applications can be submitted by elected officials, town managers/employees, or nonprofit leaders.

Learn more about the program here.

Stillwater Seeks Artist Proposals for Public Art Initiative

The Stillwater Arts & Humanities Council and the City of Stillwater are seeking artist proposals of sculpture designs that will serve as the catalyst for a larger initiative called the Gateway Project. Planned for a highly-trafficked intersection in the heart of the community, the project will welcome residents and travelers to Stillwater, with the sculpture serving as a defining element.

Design proposals should reflect the people, attitudes, and inclusive nature of Stillwater, and it should serve to inspire unity, community pride, and integrity.

Submissions are due August 1.

See the request for proposals here.

Luce Progam Supports Native Knowledge Holders and Makers

Fellowships of $75,000 will be awarded to select applicants of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship program. An effort of First Nations Development Institute and The Henry Luce Foundation, the program supports the work of outstanding Native knowledge holders and makers, with the goal of promoting exceptional creativity, progressive and critical thinking, and transformational impact in Indigenous communities. 

The fellowship is a two-year, self-directed program that includes individuals from diverse fields, including traditional and contemporary arts, cultural revitalization, and more. Funding may be used for a wide range of costs that include living expenses, equipoment, travel, and childcare, among other expenses. Fellows gather three times during the two years to engage in conversation designed to strengthen leadership skills and share about learning experiences.

Deadline to apply is July 13. Click here to learn more about the fellowship.

Our Town Grant Applications Due to NEA by August 5

Applications for the National Endowment for the Arts' creative placemaking grant program, Our Town, are due August 5. The goal of the program is to fund efforts that lay the groundwork for arts, culture, and design to be included in strategies that strengthen communities.

Partnerships between local governments, nonprofits, and other community stakeholders are central to Our Town. Grants range from $25,000 to $150,000 for projects that incorporate into placemaking strategies activities such as artist residencies, arts festivals, performances, public art, cultural planning, design of cultural facilities, public space design, and more.

See examples of past Our Town projects here.

Curriculum Spotlight: Music Composition Lessons

Oklahoma artist Benjamin Krumwiede offers a beginner's guide to music composition in his materials for the Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum. Students who have little or no experience will learn to make music quickly and intuitively using a version of Google's Song Maker that is free to download. Krumwiede's lessons will help students learn how to analyze their music from a music theory standpoint. The curriculum is best suited for grades 9 through 11.

Krumwiede's six sessions are available here.

All Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum is aligned with Oklahoma Academic Standards.

RELATED: Artists can submit proposals for lessons to be included in Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum through July 19. Up to $1,440 is available for proposals that are accepted.

Anita Fields Becomes Oklahoma's First National Heritage Fellow Since 2005

Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee) of Stillwater has become the first Oklahoman since Wanda Jackson in 2005 to earn a distinguished National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The distinction recognizes master folk and traditional artists who have made significant contributions to the nation's traditional arts heritage.

The seventh Oklahoman to earn the award, Fields is a multi-disciplinary artist widely recognized for transcribing her textile designs and the unique style of Osage ribbon work into clay. With an approach that reflects the worldview and cultural knowledge found in Osage culture, Fields was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who nurtured in her a deep reverence for the significance of Osage clothing worn for cultural gatherings. Learn about Fields' work.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said, "Oklahoma is home to many artists who through great skill and mastery are carrying on living traditions rooted deeply in the cultures of the people of our state. Anita exemplifies the essential value of preserving these practices and supporting them to the fullest extent, as they are synonymous with our state's identity - past, present, and future. She is very deserving of an award as esteemed as the National Heritage Fellowship."

Read the announcement from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Oklahoma Composer Jerod Tate Appointed U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassador

Oklahoma's Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (Chickasaw Nation) is one of 31 individuals from across the United States appointed to serve as a cultural ambassador on behalf of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Culural Affairs for its American Music Abroadprogram's 2021-2022 season.

A classical composer who is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition, Tate's commissioned works have been performed by major orchestras across the United States. He is a three-time commissioned recipient from the American Composers Forum and a recipient of the Classical Commissioning Program from Chamber Music America.

As part of his appointment, Tate will participate in a month-long, multi-country virtual tour, where he will perform public concerts and participate in lectures, workshops, jam sessions, and media interviews.

Learn more about Tate's work here.