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Oklahoma Arts Council News

January 2024

Proud of Our Impact in Fiscal Year 2023

As calendar year 2023 came to a close, our agency published a report—as we do every year—showing our accomplishments for the most recently completed fiscal year. We are pleased to share with you the Oklahoma Arts Council FY23 Impact Report, featuring our work from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.

When we look back on fiscal year 2023, I believe we will see it as a defining year for not just the arts, but our entire state. As the fiscal year began, with our sector continuing to grapple with the devestating effects of the pandemic, efforts were underway by our agency and its strategic partners to pursue critical state American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to rebuild and transform our industry. Following a few setbacks, our efforts prevailed, as state leaders recognized the opportunity to invest in all that the arts can do for Oklahoma and overwhelmingly approved a $10 million measure to set us on the path to even greater importance in communities. As calendar year 2024 begins, the seeds of what we can achieve as a sector have been planted, and in reviewing this impact report, one can see how they are already taking shape.

Here are highlights from the Oklahoma Arts Council FY2023 Impact Report:

In FY23, the Oklahoma Arts Council awarded 509 grants to 336 organizations and schools across 122 communities. We also led a strategic partnership in successfully securing $10 million in American Rescue Place Act (ARPA) funding for the arts sector.

To advance arts infrastructure in our state, we convened Leadership Arts XII and the Creative Aging Exchange, elevated folk and traditional arts through site visits and task force meetings, cultivated relationships with leaders of Oklahoma's historic all-Black towns, and more. 

Our agency introduced several new grant programs to further our investment in arts education in FY23. From school and community partnerships to field trips to the Capitol and more, learn about these grant programs here.

In a momentous year, our team reinstalled hundreds of artworks at the State Capitol. We also dedicated several exciting new works at the Capitol through our Art in Public Places program, and we opened the Hall of Heroes to commemorate our state's military history and to honor the service of our veterans.

I hope you will take a few moments to download the report and learn how we served the state during fiscal year 2023.

Governor's Arts Awards Set for January 30

The 45th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards will take place Tuesday, January 30, at 4:00 p.m. in the fourth-floor rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The event is free and open to the public.

Honorees include Ann Barker Ong of Muskogee and Holbrook Lawson of Tulsa who will receive the prestigous Governor's Award. The two are among 14 individuals and four organizations that will receive awards during the ceremony.

"In Oklahoma, we value the people who work hard to keep the arts community thriving, and these awards are just one way to show that appreciation," said Governor Stitt, who will present the awards with the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said, "From passionate volunteers and teachers to visionary nonprofit administrators and state leaders, generous philanthropists, community-centric businesses, and others, this year's honorees reflect a deep level of commitment to the arts across our state."

Awards will be presented in several categories, including business, community service, education, media, and public service. Learn more about the honorees here.

Webinar to Highlight Benefits of Theatre for Older Adults

Through our Creative Aging Initiative, the Oklahoma Arts Council will present, "Making Theatre with Older Adults," a webinar that will highlight the many benefits experienced by older adults through the participation in theatre activities. The webinar will feature Tulsa Performing Arts Center's (TPAC) Jeremy Stevens and drama therapist Caitlin Cairns in a discussion about the ways live theatre participation offers improved health and vitality for older Oklahomans. The webinar will take participants through steps of creating and implementing theatre programs for older adults in their communities.

Making Theatre with Older Adults
An Oklahoma Arts Council Creative Aging Initiative Webinar
Monday, January 29
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register here (no cost)

Is Your Website Accessible? OAC Webinar to Address 'Front Door' to Your Organization

Website accessibility is vital to any organization's ability to serve its patrons. A website is an organization's "front door," as most people visit a website before ever stepping into a business or making a purchase. Yet, most websites—in the arts world and beyond—are not accessible, and for the more than 600,000 disabled Oklahomans seeking to access information, attend an arts event, apply for a grant, pursue an arts job, and more, this lack of website accessibility has implications.

To help Oklahomans across the arts sector understand more about website accessibilty, the Oklahoma Arts Council will host "Unlocking the Front Door to the Arts," a special webinar featuring ADA coordinator Jack MacMahan from NewView Oklahoma on Monday, February 5, at 11:00 a.m.

Register now to be part of this important discussion as we will define website accessibility, explore what it means and includes, and explain how it affects you in your work in the arts.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces Grant Timelines for 2024

Oklahoma organizations that present arts programming are encouraged to note 2024 deadlines for two grant programs of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Guidelines and materials are now available for the NEA's Challenge America grants and Grants for Arts Projects (GAP).

Challenge America grants are available primarily to small organizations for projects reaching underserved communities. The program may be a good entry point for organizations that are new to federal funding. Applications are abbreviated and technical assistance is available. Grants are set at $10,000, and the deadline is April 25, 2024.

Grants for Arts Projects are available for a wide range of projects—arts programming, cross-sector collaborations, capacity-building, technology-centered creative practices, and more. Funding ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 is available, and 2024 deadlines are February 15 and July 11.

The NEA welcomes applications from first-time and returning applicants. Eligible applicants include 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities.

Funding for New, Original Work through Artistic Innovations Grants

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 Grant Program. The program encourages experimentation and exploration in the art-making process.

Projects supported through Artistic Innovations must include at least two public-facing events, including a premiere feature presentation of the work and an educational outreach event. Ideal projects are those that have in-person experiences at the heart of the endeavor and introduce an original idea to the applicant's audience.

View previously funded projects.

Applications will open in January, so be sure to stay tuned by visiting

Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Available

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants provide support for emerging and advanced arts engagement projects. The grant program is designed to improve health, well-being, and quality of life for military-connected individuals.

Matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 are being awarded through the program. Grantees receive opportunities to connect and learn with other organizations that provide programming for military communities. Grantees can also attend an annual in-person Creative Forces convening.

Grants are available to nonprofit organizations and entities of state, local, and tribal governments that have at least three years of experience in presenting or producing arts-based projects for military communities.

Applications are due January 17, 2024 for projects that begin in summer 2024. Learn more here.

RELATED: Learn about the new ArtsHERE grant program available from the NEA. Grants ranging from $65,000 to $130,000 will be awarded nationwide. Letters of interest are due January 19.

Rural Oklahoma Community Grants Available for Arts and Culture

Arts and culture are one of four categories in which projects can be funded through Rural Oklahoma Community Grants, a program of the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation.

Grants of up to $40,000 are available to nonprofit organizations in select southeast Oklahoma counties and to organizations such as museums, libraries, and government agencies that provide public programs in eligible counties.

Counties include Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, McCurtain, McIntosh, Okfuskee, and Pushmataha.

Letters of intent are due February 9. An informational Zoom meeting will take place in January.

Download grant guidelines here.

Tribal Heritage Grants from National Park Service

Through Tribal Heritage Grants from the National Park Service, funding is available to federally-recognized tribes across the United States for cultural and historic preservation projects. The program has awarded more than $17 million since it was launched in 1990, benefiting more than 460 Native American and Alaskan Native communities.

The grant program can support a variety of project types, from surveys of traditional skills and creation of inventories of historic places, to preservation planning, oral history documentation, training and education, and more.

Grant requests from $15,000 to $75,000 will be considered. Matching funds are not required, but may be considered as part of the evaluation process.

Applications are due February 20. Learn more here.

Michelle Burdex of Tulsa Selected for Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship

Michelle Antonina Burdex of Tulsa has been selected as one of 54 individuals from across the nation for the National Leaders of Color Fellowship (LoCF) program, a leadership development experience curated by WESTAF. Burdex is the Program Coordinator for the Greenwood Cultural Center. During the eight-month LoCF program, she will take part in monthly sessions featuring presentations by guest speakers and group and individual exercises to learn strategic concepts related to policy, advocacy, data, and leadership.

Through the program, fellows gain access to specialists in the field while building a network of cohorts across the nation. After completing LoCF, fellows have opportunities to collaborate with regional arts organizations such as Mid-America Arts Alliance, serving as advisors, panelists, and in other capacities.

Learn more about Burdex and the fellowship here.