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Oklahoma Arts Council News

May 2021

Oklahoma Cultural Organizations Plan for Maximizing American Rescue Plan Investment


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 27, 2021) – Several leading statewide Oklahoma cultural organizations tasked with investing funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) have announced they will coordinate efforts to maximize the impact of the federal pandemic relief funds across the state. Signed into law in March, ARP includes funding that will help the nation’s cultural sector reopen and put artists and creatives back to work. The sector has been devastated by the pandemic and has experienced unemployment rates of more than 77 percent in some fields.

Read the full release...

Arts Conference Planning Shifts to Fall 2021

Originally rescheduled for this spring, the Oklahoma Arts Conference is now being considered for a return in fall 2021. In an announcement in late April, the Oklahoma Arts Council explained that despite promising trends in pandemic-related data, the ability to anticipate a timeframe for safely convening 500 people is difficult.

The agency remains committed to offering the full experience and wide ranging content the arts and cultural community has come to expect at the conference. Oklahoma Arts Council leadership will rely on guidance from public health officials in determining when a formal announcement with details about the event can be made.

Stay connected to the Oklahoma Arts Council on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for the latest about the conference.

Governor Appoints Joe Kreger as 2021-2022 State Poet Laureate

Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt has appointed Joe Kreger of Tonkawa to serve as the 2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. A farmer and rancher by trade, Kreger is a self-described "cowboy poet" who has presented his poetry across the region. This is Kreger's second time to serve as the state's poet laureate - he was appointed to the position by former Governor Frank Keating in 1997.

The poets laureate tradition is hundreds of years old. Oklahoma's history of having a laureate dates back to 1923. In 1994, the honorary position was made official in state law, giving the Governor the authority to appoint a new poet laureate every two years.

The Oklahoma Arts Council serves on behalf of the Office of the Governor, accepting nominations for poet laureate from cultural organizations. Oklahoma Arts Council grantfunding is available for organizations to present eligible programming featuring the poet laureate.

Deadline for Oklahoma Schools with Limited Arts Education

May 14 is the deadline for schools to apply to participate in the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE)'s new Oklahoma Art Tech Grant. The grant provides fine arts education in PK-5 schools that currently have limited or no arts programs.

Schools that participate in the Oklahoma Art Tech Grant program will receive curriculum in visual arts, dance, music, and drama/theatre. The program features in-person monthly arts experiences facilitated by teaching artists. Each school is assigned an Arts Specialist to help ensure successful implementation of the program and to provide teacher support.

All services are provided at no cost to schools. Schools can apply here through 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.

OVAC Thrive Grants for Visual Artists

Through its new Thrive Grants program, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) is encouraging artists to push the boundaries of the traditional exhibition experience and engage audiences in new ways. Made possible through a partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the program encourages innovative thinking, encouraging artists to take risks with their work.

Twelve Oklahoma artist-led projects will be selected to receive $5,000 each through the program. A wide variety of visual arts-focused projects will be considered, from gallery and pop-up exhibitions, to publications, public art, and more. Projects must feature a public-facing component.

Deadline to apply is June 1. Awards will be announced in July. 

Learn more about Thrive Grants here, and find out about a free information session being offered in early May.

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Grants Available through NEH

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funding is available to help institutions secure long-term support for their activities and to expand efforts related to preservation and access. Through the NEH's Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants program, funding of up to $750,000 is available for two types of projects.

Capital Projects supports the design, purchase, construction, restoration, or renovation of facilities.

Digital Infrastructure supports the maintenance, modernization, and stabilization of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms.

Two deadlines are being offered for the grant in 2021, including May 18 and September 28. Go to for complete guidelines.

Creative Residencies Open for Oklahoma Jazz Artists

Oklahoma jazz artists looking to advance their careers can pursue funding through Jazz Road Creative Residencies. Up to $40,000 in grant awards per artist are currently being offered to support self-defined residency activities. Projects may vary and can include the creation of new music, live and/or virtual performance, community engagement, residencies at a chosen location, audience development, and more. Applicants should be mid-career professional jazz artists who can show a record of work experience in the jazz field.

Applications are being accepted through July 1 for activities taking place between October 2021 and June 2022. See the Jazz Road Creative Residencies page at for full details. 

Jazz Road is a program of South Arts in collaboration with the five U.S. regional arts organizations, including Mid-America Arts Alliance. Funding is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

City of OKC Seeks Artists for Scissortail Public Art

The City of Oklahoma City is seeking artist qualifications for a $120,000 public art project that is part of the city's development of the lower portion of its new downtown Scissortail Park. A sculpture with a strong vertical element is sought for a prominent plaza, creating a visual relationship with sculptures planned for the upper portion of the park as well as the existing Skydance Bridge, which connects to the two portions. Potential themes could include, but are not limited to, trees, "lightheartedness," "Hubcap Alley," and First American culture.

Total budget for the art is $121,000. The opportunity is open to all practicing artists who are least 18 years old. Artist teams are encouraged to submit. Deadline is May 19.

Download the RFQ here.

Artist Calls for Mural Projects in Enid, OKC

Two mural projects taking shape in Oklahoma communities are giving artists and artist teams opportunities for work.

The Public Arts Commission of Enid is seeking artist qualifications for a large mural to serve as the backdrop of the city's new skate park. The budget for the project, consisting of three buildings measuring 1,330 square feet, is $48,000. Qualifications are due May 15. See details here.

The SW 29th District Association is seeking artist proposals for a mural to be created along SW 29th Street in Oklahoma City, a corridor that is part of the city's Commercial District Revitalization Program. The project is planned for an existing wall with an area measuring 8 feet by 8 feet, and the budget is $5,000. Deadline to submit is May 12. See details here.

'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

Applications Open for Interchange Artist Grants

Artist-led projects focused on social impact are the focus of Interchange Artist Grants, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA). Through the program, 16 artists in the M-AAA region, which includes Oklahoma, will be selected to receive $20,000 in direct project support plus mentoring and professional development.

Socially-engaged practice includes a current and ongoing practice of working with communities to foster change; a practice that responds to social issues; and, a practice characterized by processes and products directly linked to their intended social impact.

Artists across a wide range of discplines may apply, including those working in performing arts, traditional arts, literary arts, visual arts, and the humanities. Applications close July 5. See full guidelines here.

Curriculum Spotlight: Explore Street Art and Public Art with Ghazal Ghazi

Artist Ghazal Ghazi of Tulsa is a muralist who has produced numerous large-scale, site-specific works of public art throughout the U.S. In her Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum resources, Ghazi introduces students to notable works of sculptures, installations, murals, and street art produced from the 1960s to the present. Geared toward high school students, Ghazi's curriculum highlights ways artists have responded to shifts in society and culture.

Activities in Ghazi's sessions center on a set of short videos about artists who have created notable works. Requiring only a notepad and pen, sessions prompt students to complete a writing assignment based on a set of questions related to the videos.

To get started, view Ghazi's curriculum page here. Individual session pdfs can be downloaded below.

Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum is aligned with Oklahoma academic standards. Curriculum is ideal for parents, students of all ages, educators, and others for distance learning and for the classroom.

Oklahoma Art in Public Places Work Takes Shape at First Americans Museum

For Starr Hardridge, creating a monumental version of Caddo pottery in collaboration with the person who revitalized the ancient craft has been the pinnacle of his career. Hardridge spent the month of March working in the First Americans Museum (FAM) in Oklahoma City, fabricating a 14-foot-tall rendition of a Caddo vessel designed by acclaimed Oklahoma potter Jeri Redcorn, who is credited with reviving the lost art of Caddo pottery making. Created through the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program, which is managed by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the work is an enhancement to the exterior walls of the museum’s Origins Theater.

Hardridge calls the large-scale his “legacy piece.” It is the first time he has tackled a project of this scale and shape. Not only has the project challenged Hardridge’s technical expertise, it has pushed him to his physical limits.

“It turned out to be much bigger than I thought it would be,” Hardridge said, noting that he had to bid on the project based only on blueprints drawn up to Redcorn’s specifications.

The curved shape of the design tasked the artist with revisiting his knowledge of geometry.

“Lots of math went into laying it out and getting it into the right location.” Hardridge said. “There’s only shot at getting the stenciling right.”

With a background in high-end decorative painting, Hardridge’s recent focus has been on his fine art practice, which combines elements of his classical art schooling with inspiration drawn from Muscogee patterns and designs. Hardridge is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The public art project at FAM is the first time he has combined his Native art influence with his approach to decorative art. He says despite the challenge he wants to do more work on this scale. Now living in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hardridge thinks the project could be a springboard for future works in his home state of Oklahoma.

While the artwork won’t be unveiled publicly until the fall, Hardridge’s work on it is complete. Its grand scale and inspired design are certain to impress museum attendees once FAM opens. In the meantime, the work already has its first fan in Jeri Redcorn, who grew emotional at seeing the results of her momentous project that acknowledges her Caddo ancestors as some of the original inhabitants of the land now recognized as Oklahoma.