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Oklahoma Arts Council News

May 2024

Record Crowd Celebrates Historic $10M Investment of ARPA in Arts

One of the largest crowds to fill the Oklahoma State Capitol in years came together in the building's second-floor rotunda on April 11 as arts organizations and art supporters from all reaches of the state were on hand to celebrate and thank state leaders for their transformational $10 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investment to rebuild the arts across Oklahoma.

Emceed by Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples, the event included remarks by Allied Arts OKC President and CEO Sunny Cearley and Arts Alliance Tulsa Executive Director Todd Cunningham. Cearley's and Cunningham's organizations have served as regional partners of the Oklahoma Arts Council on the $10 million initiative.

In attendance were representatives of the 182 organizations awarded funding from Oklahoma Arts Sector ARPA Grants, made possible by the investment. Governor Kevin Stitt made an appearance and provided brief remarks to the packed audience in the rotunda.

"Creative people are drawn to creative places...Businesses want to go where there's innovative thinkers," Stitt said, noting the importance of rebuilding the arts to workforce development in Oklahoma.

Special Thanks to Joint Committee

The 24 members of the Legislative Joint Committee on Pandemic Funding—the legislative committee that stewarded the proposed arts sector funding—were presented with glass plaques in appreciation of their work. State Senator Roger Thompson, who co-chaired the committee, praised the arts' ability to unite communities, citing the worldwide audience that comes together at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Thompson's hometown of Okemah.

State Representative Jay Steagall, another member of the committee, commented on the crowd size, saying next to the teacher strike it was the largest he had seen at the Capitol.

The event served as a reminder of how far the arts sector has come since the depths of the pandemic.

"I hope you leave this afternoon with a sense that we as a sector have turned a significant corner," said Sharples. "When faced with a challenge, the arts dig in and find a way to triumph."

View the photo album of the event.

Help build the excitement!

Share this hype video on social media to continue the celebration of the historic $10 million investment in the arts!

Editor's note: The success of the proposal requesting $10 million for the arts sector could not have been possible without the efforts of the state's nonprofit arts advocacy organization, Oklahomans for the Arts

Kickstart 66 Tour Rolls into Clinton May 9

The Kickstart 66 Tour—led by the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Main Street—will roll into Clinton in the western part of the state on Thursday, May 9, for an afternoon program highlighting economic development resources and funding offered by various public and private statewide entities.

The Clinton stop is the second of four scheduled during 2024 along the state's portion of the "Mother Road." Organized by the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahoma Main Street as members of the Oklahoma Route 66 Centennial Commission, tour stop programs feature presentations by partners such as the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Historical Society, 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—Clinton
Thursday, May 9
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The Social
700 W. Gary Blvd.

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.

Register for Creative Aging Exchange II, May 22 in Tulsa

Registration is now open for the Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange II, a day-long professional development convening focused on using the arts to improve quality of life for older Oklahomans. Scheduled May 22 in Tulsa, the event will include presentations, panel discussions, performances, and breakout sessions. Lunch will be provided.

Free and open to all, programming will be ideal for arts and cultural organizations, teaching artists, and individuals from health, aging, and social service organizations.

Keynote speaker for the event will be Cherokee Nation elder Winnie Guess Perdue, Commissioner of the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission who broke barriers as one of the first female fancy dancers. Other presenters include Dr. Susan Adams-Johnson, executive director of Scissortail Productions; Dr. Meg Chang, certified Kinetic Awareness® instructor; Frances B. Pitts, executive director of Metropolitan School of Dance; Dr. Melissa Powers, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma; Julie Tattershall, longtime artistic director at Heller Theatre and Clark Theatre in Tulsa; and Sheri Ishmael-Waldrop, director of Sapulpa Arts & Humanities Foundation.

Oklahoma Creative Aging Exchange II
presented by the Oklahoma Arts Council
Wednesday, May 22
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Philbrook Museum of Art
Register now!

Presented by the Oklahoma Arts Council, supported in part by Mid-America Arts Alliance, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy, and Philbrook Museum of Art

Lead Tours at the Capitol—Apply to Become a Capitol Docent!

Thousands of people from around the world and countless school children from across the state visit the Oklahoma State Capitol each year, eager for a one-of-a-kind experience in Oklahoma history, government, and art at the state's largest public art museum. In 2023, the Oklahoma Arts Council launched a brand new tour program to give visitors an engaging, first-class experience led by trained volunteer docents.

Through the agency's Oklahoma State Capitol Docent Program, individuals receive training and resources equipping them to become dynamic ambassadors for the state. Six weekly two-hour training sessions led by the Oklahoma Arts Council's Curator of Education and Engagement cover everything needed for docents to be prepared to lead tours.

Retired individuals, former educators, art and history enthusiasts, corporate volunteers, military veterans, civic leaders, and others make ideal docent candidates.

The next two cycles of training begin:

July 17, 2024 (six weekly two-hour sessions)
September 11, 2024 (six weekly two-hour sessions)

Don't wait to apply to take part in the next cycle of trainings to become an Oklahoma State Capitol Docent!

For more information, contact Amanda Harmer, Oklahoma Arts Council Curator of Education and Engagement, at or (405) 521-6813.

Oklahoma Arts Council Switches to Fluxx for Grant System

After more than 15 years using a first-of-its-kind online grant system designed in-house by Oklahoma Arts Council staff, the agency is switching to the online platform Fluxx to service grant applications and awards. The change is designed to improve the experience for grantees and streamline activities for agency staff.

All grant applications for projects occurring after July 1, 2024, will need to be submitted through the new grant portal at Those who have not accessed the new portal will need to register a new user account to access their organization's grant applications and reports.

NOTE: Be sure to add to your email safe senders list to ensure you receive email notifications.

All existing grant awards for projects occurring before June 30, 2024, will continue to be managed through the agency's outgoing grant system at The system will remain online for FY24 grant reporting through September 2024.

For questions and more information, contact

Disaster Response Resources Available from NCAPER

Following the devestating tornadoes and severe weather that struck parts of the state in late April, artists, nonprofit organizations, and communities across Oklahoma are urged to learn about resources collated by the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER).

NCAPER is a task force of national, regional, state, and local arts organizations, public agencies, and foundations that helps artists, arts businesses, cultural organizations, and others respond effectively to disasters and emergencies.

Resources featured on their site include:

  • Recovery resources—list of emergency funds and resources for artists and organizations

  • Field guide—to navigate disaster relief for the arts and culture sector from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration (SBA), and others  

  • Rapid Impact Assessment Form—those impacted by recent events should complete this to help identify critical needs and inform recovery efforts.

  • National Heritage Responders hotline—museums and other institutions with collections damage can call (202) 661-8068 or visit

NCAPER also offers tools for emergency preparedness planning, including checklists, workshops, and more.

Community & Culture Grants Available in Central Oklahoma

Eligible organizations in select central Oklahoma counties can apply for Culture & Community Grantsfrom the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. The program supports projects that celebrate and preserve important elements of Oklahoma's cultural fabric.

Available to nonprofit organizations, libraries, museums, schools, and state or local government agencies, projects must serve Canadian, Cleveland, Oklahoma, or Logan counties. Project must also:

  • Expand cultural programming to new or underserved communities

  • Encourage community participation in cultural activities

  • Have existing and strategic community partnerships

  • Increase awareness of Oklahoma's local cultures

Funding of up to $40,000 is available. Letters of intent are due Wednesday, June 19.

View grant guidelines here.

New Report Shows Value Added by Arts and Culture Sector in Oklahoma

New figures announced by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in March show the arts and cultural industries hit an all-time high in 2022, accounting for 4.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). Reflecting for-profit and nonprofit arts and cultural production, the data comes from a joint effort of the NEA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

State-level data shows for-profit and nonprofit arts and cultural production adds $4.8 billion to Oklahoma's economy—representing 2.0% of the economy—and accounts for 42,292 jobs. The state ranked 32nd among states in arts and cultural production value added growth and 31st in employment. See Oklahoma's arts and cultural production fact sheet

Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Applications Due

Emerging and established writers who focus on contemporary visual art can apply for an Andy Warhol Foundation Writers Grant through May 15. The program supports projects addressing general and specialized art audiences, from short reviews to in-depth scholarly studies.

Open to art historians, artists, critics, curators, journalists, and writers who are engaged with the contemporary arts, grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 will be awarded for projects in three categories—articles, books, and short-form writing. View application details here.

Visual Artists Can Apply for Thrive Grants through June 1

Eligible artists across Oklahoma can apply for Thrive Grants of up to $10,000 from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) to receive support for innovative, artist-led initiatives designed to positively impact communities.

Projects must have a central focus on the visual arts and should be ambitious, impactful, and community driven. They must be open and accessible to the public. Projects that lead to new collaborations, connections, and partnerships will be prioritized for funding.

Two options for funding are available, including a $5,000 Innovator Grant and a $10,000 Powerhouse Grant. Application category should be determined by the scale of the project.

Funding for the Thrive Grants program is made available through OVAC's collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation.

Deadline to apply for Thrive Grants is June 1.

Learn more here.

RELATED: Oklahoma City-based visual and performing artists can apply for OVAC's new Artist Entrepreneur Program initiative through May 28.

New Additions to the Oklahoma Teaching Artist Roster

Deonna Cattledge and Erica Nkechi were approved to join the Oklahoma Arts Council's Teaching Artist Roster during the agency's March Council meeting. Vetted through a rigorous application and review process, members of the roster offer services for hands-on arts learning programs in community and school settings.

Cattledge is an award-winning vocalist, storyteller, and actor who has performed in operas and other productions nationally and internationally. Available for programs statewide, Cattledge designs her programs to be customizable, and she has a specific interest in working with individuals with disabilities. View Cattledge's roster page to read her bio and services.

Erica Nkechi works in diverse visual media including painting, drawing, fiber, and printmaking. Founder of Heart Studios in Edmond, Nkechi has led programs in school and community locations across central Oklahoma—she is available for programs statewide. For her programs, Nkechi has designed a four-tiered curriculum that takes a comprehensive approach covering art history, artistic mediums and fundamentals, and more.

View Nkechi's roster page to read her bio and services.

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

Jarica Walsh celebrates her fifth year on staff with the agency in May. Walsh joined the agency originally as Director of Art in Public Places in 2019. She is currently Director of Visual and Public Art, overseeing a department of six staff members whose roles range from curating and managing state-owned art collections to training docents who give tours at the State Capitol to partnering with state agencies to commission works of public art across Oklahoma, and more.

Congratulations to Jarica on celebrating five years with the agency!