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Oklahoma Arts Council News

November 2022

2023 Leadership Arts Applications to Open Soon

Leadership Arts returns in 2023! The popular Oklahoma Arts Council program will soon be seeking applications for its 12th class. Launched in 2008, Leadership Arts equips Oklahomans with the training, research, and professional networks they need to advance the role of the arts in their communities.

Offered every two years, Leadership Arts brings together a class of 30 Oklahomans from every part of the state and provides an experience centering on four two-day, in-person sessions that take place in various Oklahoma communities in the spring. Class members participate in group activites, panel discussions, presentations, and tours of local arts and cultural spaces. Graduation takes place at the Oklahoma Arts Conference in the fall.

2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference

Leadership Arts class members complete the program during a special graduation ceremony at the Oklahoma Arts Conference in the fall. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for an announcement about the date and location of the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference!

Who can benefit from Leadership Arts?

Oklahomans involved in arts and non-arts fields can benefit from the program. Participants have included administrators of nonprofit organizations, artists, community developers, business and civic leaders, tribal representatives, educators, and others. See who has graduated from Leadership Arts.

Visit the Leadership Arts page to learn more about the program curriculum, tuition, and more.

Extension for Governor's Arts Awards Nominations

Friday, November 11 is the new deadline for submitting 2023 Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awardsnominations. Nominations are encouraged for individuals, businesses, and organizations whose efforts have impacted the arts in communities and schools. 

First held in 1975, awards are presented in several categories, including community service, education, business, media, and public service. To be eligible, nominees must be current full-time Oklahoma residents or organizations that work in and for the benefit of Oklahoma (no posthumous awards). The 2023 Governor's Arts Awards ceremony will be presented at the State Capitol in the spring.

Click here for award guidelines, criteria, and a list of past winners.

There are two ways to submit a nomination:

Be sure to submit nominations by November 11!

First Round of Exhibitions Open in Capitol Galleries

The first set of exhibitions of artwork by Oklahoma artists in the rotating Capitol galleries in six years were installed in October. Exhibitions in the galleries had been on hold during the Capitol restoration.

The Oklahoma Arts Council supports the work of current Oklahoma artists by curating three rotating galleries in the historic building—the North, East, and Governor's galleries—where artworks are displayed for thousands of visitors, students, and Capitol employees to view and enjoy. The galleries are free and open to the public.

Current Exhibitions

North Gallery
October 10, 2022 – January 13, 2023
Rachel Hayes (Tulsa)

East Gallery
October 2022 – January 2023
Michael Elizondo, Jr. (El Reno)

Governor's Gallery
October 2022 – January 2023
Karin Walkingstick (Claremore)

Portfolio submission

Oklahoma artists interested in exhibiting their artwork in the Capitol galleries can submit their portfolios to the Oklahoma Arts Council for consideration.

Become a docent and lead Capitol tours!

The Oklahoma Arts Council is currently accepting applications for the inaugural class of Oklahoma State Capitol docents! Volunteer docents play an essential role in providing extraordinary experiences for visitors at the Capitol by leading tours and sharing in-depth stories of Oklahoma art, history, and government. Learn more and complete a docent application here.

Be a Grant Review Panelist for the Oklahoma Arts Council

Throughout the year, the Oklahoma Arts Council relies on individuals statewide to provide valuable input in the agency's review of hundreds of grant applications. Grant review panels made up of Oklahoma residents play an important role in ensuring transparency for the agency's grantmaking—an investment in communities and schools that averages more than 65 percent of the agency's budget each year.

Applications are accepted year-round from Oklahomans interested in serving as grant review panelists. In addition to helping assure programs supported by public funding are reflective of the people of Oklahoma and their communities, grant review panelists receive compensation and gain valuable insight into the grant application and assessment processes.

The Oklahoma Arts Council seek individuals of all backgrounds to serve as grant review panelists. An online form is available for individuals interested in applying. Applicants should be prepared to demonstrate how their knowledge and experience in the arts will benefit the grant review process.

Learn more and apply to be a grant review panelist here.

NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Director Tours Oklahoma

National Endowment for the Arts Folk & Traditional Arts director Cliff Murphy spent several days visiting sites around the state with the Oklahoma Arts Council in October. Murphy has served in his position since 2015, overseeing the federal agency's grantmaking in the folk and traditional arts and managing the National Heritage Fellowships program.

Among his stops, Murphy joined Oklahoma Arts Council staff for the Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration at First Americans Museum before heading to Tulsa to meet with members of the Oklahoma Arts Council's folk and traditional arts task force.

Murphy's itinerary included accompanying Oklahoma Arts Council cultural development staff on a tour of eastern Oklahoma communities. First Peoples Fund's Emmy Her Many Horses also joined the tour. Stops included the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame in Rentiesville and Cherokee Nation offices in Tahlequah among other area arts and cultural spaces.

Get Funding to Organize a Community Reading Program

Organized through a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read program provides matching grants ranging of $5,000 to $20,000 in support of community-wide reading programs. The programs aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new connections in communities across the United States.

Applications are currently open for grants that can support projects scheduled between September 2023 and June 2024. Nonprofit organizations, public libraries, school districts, local and tribal governments, and other entities can submit an intent to apply for funding by Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

In addition to funding, the program provides training opportunities, digital resources, and outreach materials. Applicants can choose from a diverse library of Big Read books and organize activities such as author readings, book discussions, art exhibitions, lectures, and panel discussions.

Learn how to apply for Big Read funding and organize a reading program for your community.

VSA International Young Musicians Award Program

Oklahoma young musicians ages 14-25 with disabilities are encouraged to look into the VSA International Young Musicians Awards, a program offered by The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Each year, outstanding soloists and ensembles of any instrument (including voice) or genre are selected to receive the award, which includes $2,000 and the opportunity to participate in professional development programs provided by The Kennedy Center.

All genres of music are accepted, including classical, jazz, hip-hop, rap, rock/alt rock, pop, indie, bluegrass, folk, country, R&B/blues, Latin, world music, and more.

Deadline to apply is January 18, 2023.

Participate in the 2022 Creative Aging Institute Online in November

For arts administrators, artists, and others involved in arts learning programs serving older Oklahomans, the 2022 Creative Aging Institute—offered by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)—is an opportunity to gain professional development focused on trends and topics in the creative aging field.

The free online institute will take place over four Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in November (November 8, 9, 15, 16). Examples of sessions scheduled include:

  • What Does It Mean to Be an Elder Artist in Your Community?

  • Creative Aging Best Practices for Senior Centers and Libraries

  • How Aging Influences Art and Art Influences Aging

  • And, more

Among the featured speakers are executive and education staff of state arts agencies, representatives of the nonprofit Lifetime Arts, seasoned teaching artists, and others.

Register for the free institute here.

NEA Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Available

The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance has announced a funding opportunity for projects that serve military-connected individuals. Applications for Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants are open through January 19.

Available to nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities, grants can support projects serving active duty service members, guardsmen, reservists, veterans, families, and caregivers. Projects require at least one partner and must be led by at least one organization with a history of creative or artistic programming. Two categories of support are available, including:

  • Emerging – up to $10,000 for one-year projects to develop and implement new or emerging nonclinical arts engagement programs
  • Advanced – $10,000 to $25,000 for one-year projects or up to $50,000 for two-year projects

View projects that were awarded last year.

Learn more about grant program and apply at

Celebrating Staff Milestones

The staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council is our agency's most valued resource. Each member is thoroughly committed to public service, cherishing the chance to meet the needs of the arts sector and build the state using the transformative power of the arts. Below, we celebrate milestones of Oklahoma Arts Council staff members.

Assistant Director Molly O'Connor celebrates her 16th anniversary on staff with the Oklahoma Arts Council in November! As Assistant Director, she oversees community and cultural development work of the agency. Among the programs she leads are Leadership Arts and the Oklahoma Arts Conference. Congratulations to Molly on celebrating another year with the agency!