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Oklahoma Arts Council News

June 2021

Oklahoma artist Anita Fields named a 2021 National Heritage Fellow


Oklahoma City (June 16, 2021) ­– Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee) of Stillwater has been named a 2021 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts. The distinction is given to master folk and traditional artists who have made significant contributions to the nation’s traditional arts heritage. Fields is the seventh Oklahoman to earn the prestigious award, the first since Wanda Jackson was awarded a fellowship in 2005.

Read the full announcement...

State Budget Includes Increase for Oklahoma Arts Council

An increase in funding for the arts in Oklahoma is part of the state's fiscal year 2022 budget, signed by Governor Stitt on May 24. The Oklahoma Arts Council will receive a state appropriation of $3,004,205 for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. The amount represents a 7.45 percent increase from the current fiscal year

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said the increase shows state leaders value the arts as an educational and economic development tool for the state.

"I am extremely grateful to state legislators and Governor Stitt for this increase in funding for the arts," said Sharples. "This increase in our state appropriation demonstrates a recognition of the value of our work, and it show that Oklahoma's elected leaders have seen first hand in their schools and communities how the arts are generating an excellent return on investment in the lives of Oklahomans."

Nonprofit organizations, schools, libraries, local governments, and tribal nations are eligible to apply for Oklahoma Arts Council grant funding to present arts programming. Applications are now being accepted in several categories for the new fiscal year.

Statewide Cultural Leaders to Coordinate ARP Funds Investment

Three of Oklahoma's leading statewide cultural organizations will coordinate efforts to ensure new pandemic relief funding from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan has the broadest reach possible across Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and Oklahoma Humanities have announced they are discussing ways to work together to reach shared goals.

Each of the three organizations will create their own grant applications and related criteria, however they will maintain communication as they administer funds. Through coordination, they seek to achieve broad investment that considers geographic and cultural representation and size and reach of applicant organizations.

Read the announcement here.

UPDATE: Oklahoma Humanities opens their ARP grants.

Applications for Small Grants Available as Fiscal Year Begins

Applications for funding through the Oklahoma Arts Council's Small Grant Support program are now available for programs that will take place in the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Applications are due at least 30 days in advance of the start of a program.

Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, city and county governments, tribal nations, libraries, and public school districts are eligible for three awards of up to $2,500 each per fiscal year. Organizations that are new to the grant system must first submit a request for login credentials. Funding can support eligible expenses related to performances, exhibitions, festivals, and community-based arts learning programs. A cash match is required (half of the match may be in-kind support). Learn more here.


Schools can apply for funding through the Small Grant Support for Schools program to bring teaching artists to their classrooms during the 2021-2022 school year. Programs must take place during normal school hours. Individual schools are eligible for three grants of up to $2,500 each, with a 10 percent cash match required.

(NOTE: Applications for Classroom Supply Grants for Visual and Performing Arts will be available in August).

Final Reports Due

Organizations and schools that have not yet submitted final reports for grants awarded for fiscal year 2021 are urged to submit those as soon as possible.

Arts Included in "Ready Together" Education Plan

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has announced a new plan from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to help students get back on track after more than a year of disrupted learning across schools resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The education department's "Ready Together Oklahoma" action plan focuses on re-envisioning public education through a comprehensive approach that seeks to leverage partnerships to provide enrichment opportunities and social and emotional support needed for students to thrive.

As part of the initial phase of the plan, Hofmeister announced a $14 million investment in summer learning. Oklahoma school districts including the state's largest district, Oklahoma City Public Schools, are prioritizing fine arts among the opportunities for students to engage in this summer.

Grants for Nonprofits Coming Soon

A subgrant opportunity for nonprofits to use in providing out-of-school learning in fall 2021 will be made available soon, Hofmeister said.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples joined Hofmeister and representatives of several community organizations at the news conference announcing the plan in May.

Oklahoma Arts Council Partners on Tulsa Airport Mural

In May, Tulsa artist Alexander Tamahn completed a new mural that is now welcoming more than 2,500 people per day arriving at the Tulsa International Airport. Tamahn's vibrant "Oklahoma Welcomes You" mural was a project of the Oklahoma Arts Council's Art in Public Places program, made possible through a collaboration with the Office of Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust. Measuring eight feet tall and nearly 23 feet wide, the mural centers on Tamahn's artistic interpretation of the state's new logo, introduced by Pinnell in 2020.

"Our new state brand and logo were designed to reflect Oklahoma's enterprising spirit and its vibrant culture. Alexander's interpretation of the new state brand does a marvelous job of conveying this," said Pinnell.

"Oklahoma artists play a crucial role in creating a positive and lasting impression for visitors to our state," said Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples. "Alexander brought a thoughtful approach to his concept, where the state logo as the sun is a powerful metaphor for renaissance and renewal, welcoming visitors while reminding Oklahomans of the home they love."

Tulsa's News on 6 was among the media that highlighted Tamahn's work on the mural. Click here to watch the News on 6 segment.

Lewis Prize for Music Offering "Accelerator Awards"

Accelerator Awards from The Lewis Prize for Musicare designed to help organizations create positive change in the lives of young people through music. Through the program, organizations are awarded $500,000 in multi-year funding to support sustained progress toward community change.

Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides ongoing participation opportunities for youth that sequentially build skills and relationships over time. Youth served by the organization must learn, create, and/or perform music for at least 50 percent of their overall program participation time. Programs must address opportunity gaps for the young people served. 

Two informational livestream events will be hosted in June to provide an opportunity to learn more about the program.

Applications for the 2022 Accelerator Awards are due July 16.

IMLS Opens Applications for New Pandemic Response Funding

Museums and libraries across Oklahoma can apply for new pandemic response funding available directly from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Allocated through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), up to $50,000 in funding per organization is available.

The grant funding can support programs that continue, enhance, or expand existing programs. It can also support new programs that address emergent needs. The program is intended to help organizations advance digital inclusion, hire and/or train staff, build community-focused partnerships, create and deliver online and in-person programs, foster community engagement and dialogue, and support efforts to collect, preserve, and manage documentary sources and tangible objects representing the COVID-19 pandemic experience.

Deadline for applications is June 28. Go to for details.

'Grants for Art Projects' Applications Due in July

July 8 is the deadline for organizations to submit applications for funding through the National Endowment for the Arts' Grants for Art Projectscategory. Project-based support of up to $100,000 is available through the program for 501(c)(3) nonprofits, units of state or local governments, and fedrally recognized tribal communities. The Arts Endowment is encouraging applications from organizations and programs of all sizes. They are also encouraging applications for projects that use the arts to promote unity and healing in response to current events. For full details about the funding opportunity, go to

RELATED: National Endowment for the Arts announces new round of grants for Oklahoma.

Also, plan now for Our Town grants for creative placemaking projects, due August 5.

USDA's Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge

Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is available to assist rural communities with creative placemaking activities. Grants of up $250,000 will be provided to qualified entities for use with planning support and technical assistance. Projects can enhance broadband access, preserve cultural and historical structures, and more.

The USDA defines placemaking as a collaborative process among public, private, philanthropic and community partners to strategically improve the social, cultural, and economic structure of a community. Areas are considered rural if they have a population of less than 50,000. Entities that are eligible to apply include federally-recognized tribes, institutions of higher learning, nonprofit organizations, public bodies, or small private entities that meet size standards established by the Small Business Administration.

Learn more about the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. Deadline for applications is July 26.

Curriculum Spotlight: Elements of Dance

Oklahoma teaching artist Tonya Kilburn has created curriculum that will keep kids moving this summer as they go on an "expedition" of space and time through dance. Ideal for grades 3-4, Kilburn's "Exploring the Elements of Dance" lessons offer three downloadable sessions. Students will learn about locomotor and non-locomotor movements, develop an understanding of spatial awareness, and use improvisation as a way of furthering their skills.

An instructor guide and rubrics are available at Kilburn's page of the Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum site.

COMING SOON: Another opportunity for teaching artists to submit curriciulum proposals will be announced soon.

Artus' 'Her Flag' to be Displayed at National Museum

Several years in the making, Oklahoma artist Marilyn Artus' "Her Flag" project celebrating women's right to vote was completed in August 2020. This summer, from June 9 to July 12, the flag will be on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C.

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States, Artus' project enlisted women from the 36 states that ratified the amendment to create artwork representing their state. Artus turned the artwork into stripes to sew into the flag.

Artus' initial goal was to travel to each state's capital to present a public event of her sewing with each artist. She was able to travel to 25 states before the pandemic cut her journey short.

Learn about the NMWA exhibition here.

Visit Artus' "Her Flag" website to learn more about the project.