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Oklahoma Arts Council News

April 2024

April 11 Event to Celebrate Historic $10 Million Investment in the Arts

A celebration marking the state's historic $10 million investment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in rebuilding the arts will bring together the sector on Thursday, April 11 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Nearly 200 organizations awarded funding through Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants will gather at the Oklahoma State Capitol for a special presentation hosted by the Oklahoma Arts Council and its partners on the grant, Allied Arts OKC and Arts Alliance Tulsa. Oklahomans everywhere who support the arts are invited to attend.

As part of the celebration, members of the Legislative Joint Committee on Pandemic Funding, who championed and approved the $10 million in funding, will receive special acknowledgment. The event will give grantees the chance to thank their legislators. Lunch will be provided and live music will be performed by Tulsa pianist Barron Ryan. Attendees can expect photo opportunities, a closing reception, and more.

The Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grant celebration immediately follows Oklahomans for the Arts' 2024 Arts & Culture Day activities.

Kickstart 66 Tour to Bring Resources to Communties Along 'Mother Road'

The Oklahoma Arts Council is hitting the road with Oklahoma Main Street for a series of stops along Route 66 to bring community and economic development resources to towns along the historic byway ahead of its 2026 centennial. The Kickstart 66 Tour supports the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell. The tour is being driven by the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Main Street Center as members of the commission.

Four stops are scheduled throughout 2024, each offering presentations on resources by numerous partners, including the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma Museums Association, and more.

Business owners, local government officials, nonprofit organizations, museums, historical societies, tribal nation representatives, artists, chambers of commerce, community volunteers and local stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

Each tour stop program will have a heavy emphasis on networking and connecting attendees with resources as they consider goals for their communities.

Reserve a seat here for any of the following Kickstart 66 Tour stops! (no cost)

Kickstart 66 Tour Dates:

Miami on April 4
Clinton on May 9
Sapulpa on September 12
Arcadia on October 3

Learn more about the Kickstart 66 Tour.

RELATEDApply for an Oklahoma Route 66 Grant for placemaking, historic preservation, and more.

Upcoming Webinars Designed to Equip Arts to Serve All Oklahomans

Empowering organizations and individuals to have the broadest impact possible, the Oklahoma Arts Council is offering a series of webinars focused on the tools that can make the arts accessible to more Oklahomans. Facilitated by the Oklahoma Arts Council's Arts Learning in Communities Director, Erika Wilhite, the 90-minute webinars are scheduled at 11:00 a.m. over a series of upcoming dates throughout the spring. 

Learn more and register below for the webinars that can help equip you expand your service and impact to your community:

"Creating Accessible Exhibitions for People with Blindness and Low Vision"
Monday, April 15
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

"Careers in the Arts for People with Disability"
Monday, April 25
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

"Audio Descriptions for Performing Arts Experiences"
Monday, May 1
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register now

Register for May's Creative Aging Exchange II in Tulsa

In 2022, the Oklahoma Arts Council held the first-ever Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange, a day-long professional development convening that included presentations, panel discussions, performances, and breakout sessions centered on ways to improve quality of life for older Oklahomans.

On Wednesday, May 22, 2024, the Oklahoma Arts Council will present the Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange II at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. The full-day convening is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The free event is open to everyone with programming ideal for arts and cultural organizations, teaching artists, and individuals from health, aging, and social service organizations.

Register now at and join us for a full day of creative aging conversations and more at the Philbrook Museum in May!

Presented with support from Mid-America Arts Alliance, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy, and Philbrook Museum of Art

Leadership Arts Reunion Scheduled April 11

Hundreds of Oklahomans have graduated from the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts program since 2008. Alumni of the program are actively putting to use in their communities the knowledge, skills, and networks gained through the program. On Thursday, April 11, alumni are invited to gather for a special reunion, with the opportunity to hear from alumni members about their current arts-related projects, goals, and programs, and for updates about Oklahoma's arts sector.

Facilitated by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Leadership Arts reunion will take place from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, located at 11 NW 11th Street in Oklahoma City.

The reunion will take place after Oklahomans for the Arts' 2024 Arts & Culture Day and the special Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grant celebration at the State Capitol.

To reserve a seat, or for accommodation requests, email miranda.gilbert@arts.ok.govby Friday, April 5. There is no cost to attend. Light refreshments will be provided.

Challenge America Grants from NEA Grants for Smaller Communities

Support for arts projects of smaller organizations nationwide is available through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grants. The program offers $10,000 in funding through an abbreviated application process. It is designed to extend the reach of the arts to groups and communities that are underserved and is an excellent entry point for organizations that are new to NEA funding.

Available to nonprofit organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities, Challenge America funds a wide variety of projects across artistic disciplines. Arts programming, marketing activities, organizational planning and more can be supported.

Applications for projects scheduled to begin in 2025 are due April 30, 2024.

Main Street and American Express Backing Small Business through Grant Program

Main Street America and American Express have teamed up to offer the Backing Small Business grant program, offering $10,000 grants for projects that grow or improve a business by building community, supporting economic viability, or bolstering meaningful change. The program focuses on helping underresourced and economically vulnerable small business owners. Small businesses with "community reach," provided through continuity and a sense of identity to a neighborhood, are the target of this grant program. An example is a business that hosts free concerts featuring local artists. Artist-led and other local creative businesses are encouraged to look into the program.

Expenses that can be covered by the grant include community events and programs, equipment, marketing, operational strategy, accessibility upgrades, physical improvements, and more.

In addition, a subset of 25 Backing Small Business grant recipients will be awarded $30,000 Enhancement Grants to help create transformative change within their business and community.

Deadline for applications is April 7. Learn about the grant and apply here.

Students Can Submit for Congressional Art Competition

Through the Congressional Art Competition, high school students across Oklahoma can submit original works of art for the chance to receive recognition from their Congressional representatives and the opportunity to have their artwork displayed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for one year.

Eligible artwork includes paintings, drawings, collages, prints, mixed media, computer-generated art, and photographs. Artwork may be up to 26 inches by 26 inches.

Each member of Congress has their own deadline and additional instructions.

First District: Deadline is unlisted—call their office (Representative Kevin Hearn)

Second District: Deadline is April 19 (Representative Josh Brecheen)

Third District: Deadline is April 26 (Representative Frank Lucas)

Fourth District: Deadline is May 3 (Representative Tom Cole)

Fifth District: Deadline is April 5 (Representative Stephanie Bice)

See past winners here.

Interchange Artist Grant from M-AAA

Artists from Oklahoma and the six-state Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) region can apply for the Interchange artist grant program to receive $25,000 in support of socially-engaged creative practice.

Open to artists who are 21 years or older who create social-practice based work and have at least a three-year history of that practice outside of university, the 18-month program features two professional development retreats in Kansas City, Missouri, quarterly virtual one-on-one mentoring session with artist peer facilitators, and quarterly virtual 90-minute workshops during the granting period.

Socially-engaged creative practice is defined for the program as working with communities to make change. The program is designed around the idea that artists possess skills, training, and vision to collaborate across sector to stimulate dialogue, activate neighborhoods, and creatively respond to civic challenges.

Applications for the program are open through April 15. Learn about Interchange here.

Agency Seeks Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants Assistant

Applications are being accepted by the Oklahoma Arts Council for a part-time, temporary position that will provide support in the administration of the nearly $10 million in Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants recently awarded across the state.

The Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants Assistantwill assist grant recipients, facilitate reporting and payment processing, maintain records, and more. The position offers an hourly rate of $23.55, with duties requiring approximately 20 hours per week for up to one year. Made available through American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the position may be extended depending on additional funding.

Click here to read the full position description, qualifications, and application instructions.

Celebrating Staff Milestones

The staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council is the agency's most valued resource. Each member is committed to public service, cherishing the opportunity to meet needs of the sector and build a stronger Oklahoma through the arts.

Staff Anniversaries

Amanda Harmer celebrates her second anniversary with the Oklahoma Arts Council in April. As Curator of Education and Engagement, Harmer has established a museum-quality docent training program for the Oklahoma State Capitol through which she and the volunteer docents she has equipped have given hundreds of tours for thousands of visitors covering Oklahoma art, history, and government.

Christina Naruszewicz is celebrating her first anniversary with the agency in April. She was brought on in 2023 to serve as Director of Collections Management, overseeing the maintenance and installation of artwork within the agency's care, including the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol. In her first year, Naruszewicz has been instrumental in events dedicating a portrait of Okahoma Cultural Treasure Wanda Jackson, sculptures of Hannah Atkins and Clara Luper, the Medal of Honor plaque, and more.

Congratulations to Amanda and Christina on celebrating these milestones on our staff!