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Oklahoma Arts Council News

January 2022

Oklahoma Arts Council Launches Grant Program Serving Rural Counties


OKLAHOMA CITY (January 26, 2022) – Organizations in 36 rural Oklahoma counties can apply to receive up to $5,000 in funding through a new Oklahoma Arts Council grant program. The state agency has announced the launch of Rural Arts Opportunity Grants to boost arts programming and cultural infrastructure in select areas of the state. Read more...

Senate Confirms New Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts

Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson has been confirmed as the new Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). President Biden's appointment of Jackson to lead the federal arts agency was approved by the U.S. Senate in December. 

In a statement following her confirmation, Jackson said, "I will lead the NEA with dedication to inclusivity, collaboration, and with the recognition that art, culture, and creativity are core to us reaching our full potential as a nation."

Jackson grew up in Los Angeles, where her mother used the arts to teach her about the richness of her family's varied cultural roots. From her upbringing, she developed an awareness of the ways arts and culture build healthy, opportunity-rich communities. In addition to the arts' role as an economic driver, Jackson supports continued efforts to broaden the impact of the arts across fields such as community development and public health.

Jackson's accomplished career includes a 20-year stint at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., where she pioneered research on the role of the arts in community revitalization. She is currently a professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Arizona State University.

Read more about Dr. Jackson in the NEA announcement.

Register for Oklahoma Arts Council's Creative Aging Town Hall

An upcoming virtual town hall meeting presented by the Oklahoma Arts Council will provide insight into the agency's new Creative Aging initiative. The meeting will take place on Zoom on Thursday, January 13, 2022, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

During the meeting, participants will learn about the principles and practices of Creative Aging. The meeting will be co-hosted by Lifetime Arts, a leading national nonprofit organization specializing in Creative Aging program development.

Recommended participants include:

  • Teaching artists in all disciplines

  • Staff of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations

  • Health and social service organization representatives

  • Individuals interested in serving older Oklahomans through the arts

Announced in spring 2021, the agency's Creative Aging initiative is aimed at equipping organizations across Oklahoma and building capacity for serving older adults through the arts.

Register here for the town hall.  For more information, contact Erika Wilhite, Arts Learning in Communities Director, at (405) 521-6280 or

OMA, Libraries Teaming Up to Offer Leadership Trainings

The Oklahoma Museums Association (OMA) and Oklahoma Department of Libraries have teamed up to present a series of free training opportunities for individuals working in Oklahoma's nonprofit sector.

Their "Leading in an Emergency" trainings begin January 20 with a six-part live webinar series titled, "Mindful Leadership During Times of Crisis." The monthly series will be led by Krista Scammahorn, an author, trainer, and consultant with more than 20 years experience

In late May, in-person "Emergency Preparedness" workshops will be presented in four different Oklahoma communities by Rebecca Elder. Elder has more than 15 years experience as a cultural heritage preservation consultant. Her in-person workshops will be limited to 25 people per workshop.

The "Emergency Preparedness" workshops will also be offered as a live, three-part webinar in June.

Go to the OMA website to register and learn more about the trainings.

Funding for the Creation of New, Original Artwork

Individual artists and arts-based nonprofits in Oklahoma and the six-state Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) region can receive up to $15,000 to support the creation of new, original artwork through M-AAA's Artistic Innovations program. The program encourages experimentation and exploration in the art-making process.

Projects supported through Artistic Innovations funding must include at least two public-facing events, including a premiere feature presentation of the work and an educational outreach event.

Applications open January 7, 2022. Deadline for submissions is February 16. The grant period of activity is July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

View last year's grantees.

Learn how to apply at

Applications for NEA's Grants for Arts Projects Due in February

The principal grant program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Grants for Arts Projects supports public engagement and access to the arts through awards of up to $100,000.

Available to organizations of all sizes across the United States, the grant program funds a wide variety of projects across disciplines. Nonprofits, units of local government, and federally recognized tribal nations are eligible.

From arts education to dance, folk and traditional arts to literary arts, museums, music, media arts, theater, and more, projects of all types throughout Oklahoma can benefit from funding through the Grants for Arts Projects program. 

Applications for the program are being accepted through February 10, 2022. Learn how to apply.

African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Grants

Preservation activities for historic places related to African American cultural heritage can be supported through grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund provides funding between $50,000 and $150,000 to support work in four areas: capital projects, organizational capacity building, project planning, and programming and interpretation.

A broad range of nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply, including preservation organizations, churches, universities, historic sites, and more. Boards, commissions, departments, and other entities of public agencies are also eligible to apply.

Letters of intent are due Friday, January 14.

Tips for applying, best practices, and a full description of the 2022 grant program are available here.

NEH Offering Preservation Grants for Smaller Institutions

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is offering funding to small and mid-sized institutions to assist with the preservation of humanities collections. Along with improving the ability to care for fine art objects, the NEH's Preservation Assistance Grants for Small Institutions can assist with the preservation of textiles, books, journals, prints, photographs, film, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, digital materials, and more.

Maximum award amount in the category is $10,000. Activities supported by the grant include preservation and collections care workshops, assessment reports, and the purchase of preservation supplies and equipment.

Organizations that have never received an NEH grant, and organizations serving under-represented communities, are encouraged to apply. 

Applications are due January 13. Guidelines and a recorded webinar are available at

TSET Offering Grants for Projects that Encourage Healthy Living

A new grant program is being offered by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to support projects that encourage healthy living. Nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, tribal nations, institutions of higher learning and public agencies can apply. The funding is being offered for two types of projects:

  • Policy and built environment grants – up to $350K per year for up to two years for community infrastructure projects (built environment, sidewalks, design studies, etc.)

  • Innovations in active living – up to $250K per year for two years for initiatives that on a wide scale seek to increase participation in regular physical activity.

Oklahoma cultural district stakeholders, arts organizations that are involved in health-related initiatives, and others are encouraged by the Oklahoma Arts Council to learn more about this funding opportunity. 

Applications are being accepted through March 15. 

Read the announcement here.

Guidelines and application information is available here.

Western Governors' Foundation Launches Leadership Institute

The Western Governors' Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Western Governors' Association (WGA), has announced the launch of a leadership institute for young adults. Open to individuals ages 21 through 25 who are residents of Oklahoma or a state in the WGA region, the The Western Governors' Leadership Institute is designed to promote development of tomorrow's leaders. The Oklahoma Arts Council encourages emerging Oklahoma arts leaders to apply.

One applicant from each western state will attend the annual WGA meeting in July, where they will participate in a leadership development forum. All related expenses will be covered. Deadline to apply is February 15, and details are available at

Art Competition for Students

Among the projects of the Western Governors' Association is the annual "Celebrate the West" regional art competition for high school students. Submissions for the 2022 competition are currently being accepted.

Curriculum Spotlight: Pop Art Self-Portraits

Oklahoma artist Marium Rana has created lessons that take students through the steps of creating self-portraits in the spirit of Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Considered the father of Pop art, Lichtenstein used flat, graphic paintings similar in style to comic strips.

Designed for students in grades 6-8, Rana's three downloadable sessions for her Oklahoma Online Fine Arts Curriculum teach students about Lichtenstein's style before taking them through a step-by-step process of recreating photos of themselves onto paper. Students are shown how to use solid, bold colors and lines to complete their portraits.

Rana's curriculum aligns with Oklahoma Academic Standards. Sessions can be downloaded here.

Tulsa's Lawson New Chair of Regional Arts Organization

The board of directors for Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), the regional arts organization serving Oklahoma and a six-state region, has named Tulsa's Holbrook Lawson as its new board chair. Lawson, who operates a fine art consultancy business, has served on the M-AAA board since 2014, when she was Chair of the Oklahoma Arts Council. In her time on the M-AAA board, she has helped guide the development of their five-year strategic plan.

Lawson is the first woman and Native American to serve as the organization's chair.

In a statement about her new tenure, Lawson said, "I am pleased to be a part of a stable, forward-thinking, accomplished, and purpose-driven art organization. M-AAA has tremendous momentum, and the future is exciting."

In addition to Lawson's leadership role on the M-AAA board, Amber Sharples, Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director, was named Vice Chairperson. New Oklahoma Arts Council Chair, Charles Moore, also joined the board.

Celebrating the Staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council

When it comes to serving Oklahomans, the staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council is our agency's most valued resource. Each member of our staff is committed to public service. We cherish the opportunity to work hard to meet the needs of the arts sector and to build our state using the transformative power of the arts. 

Below we celebrate milestones of Oklahoma Arts Council staff members.

Staff Anniversaries

Sterling Hayes celebrates her first year with the Oklahoma Arts Council in January. Hayes is the Art in Public Places Program Assistant, where she works on a range of administrative and financial functions specific to the state's public art program. A practicing potter who holds a degree in studio art from Oklahoma State University, Hayes served previously at the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Cayla Lewis celebrates her second year on staff with the Oklahoma Arts Council in January. Lewis is the Community Arts Director, overseeing agency support for audience-based programs and managing the Oklahoma Cultural District Initiative and Oklahoma Performing Artist Roster. In addition to a degree in studio art, Lewis holds a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies. She previously served as executive director for Preservation Oklahoma and the Plaza District Association.

Congratulations to Sterling and Cayla on these public service milestones!