Oklahoma Arts Council
Statement Regarding Consolidation
Governor Fallin’s Fiscal Year 2015 Executive Budget includes a recommendation to consolidate the Oklahoma Arts Council and four other state agencies with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Following is an excerpt from the budget:
Building on the consolidation success in other agencies with similar missions, the Governor proposes five existing agencies with tourism, recreational or cultural missions be consolidated into the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. As required and achieved in prior consolidations, this budget projects a *15 percent cost savings in appropriated dollars in the first year of the consolidation among the agencies proposed to be consolidated into OTRD, which are the Oklahoma Arts Council, Historical Society, J.M. Davis Memorial Commission, Will Rogers Memorial Commission, and Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.” - Gov. Mary Fallin
*15% of the Oklahoma Arts Council’s state appropriation equals approximately $600,000.
The Governor’s proposal to consolidate the Oklahoma Arts Council with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department would result in a net loss for the people of Oklahoma. Consolidation would erode services to the state’s arts and cultural industry and undermine Oklahoma’s ability to compete for business and a creative workforce.
Potential consequences include:
Loss of Funding
- More than $1.5 million of federal and regional funding and programs for Oklahoma from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance would be at risk.
- A *15% reduction for the first year would result in significant cuts in grants to nonprofits, schools, libraries, and local and tribal governments. The reduction would also result in reductions to professional and community development programs such as the Oklahoma Arts Conference, Leadership Arts, Cultural District Development Program, and more.
*Approximately $600,000 from the Oklahoma Arts Council budget
Loss of Accountability & Transparency
- Consolidation would result in the loss of direct budget accountability to the state Legislature.
- The 15-member, Governor-appointed Oklahoma Arts Council board is comprised of citizens with industry-related expertise who provide oversight to the agency’s programs and more than 500 grants. For nearly 50 years, the Council board has been actively involved in the objective grant making process, ensuring that grant making remains a competitive, credible, and transparent process. With consolidation, the Council board may lose its authority as a governing body.
Loss of Mission
With consolidation, the following components of the Oklahoma Arts Council’s mission would be susceptible to change:
- Supporting the state’s nonprofit arts and cultural industry with grants: Access is central to our mission and 56% of our grants are awarded to nonprofits and schools in rural communities.
- Developing the state’s arts and cultural infrastructure through programs. The agency’s programs are unique and specific services, which provide professional and community development expertise to both rural and urban communities.
- Educating a creative workforce: Arts education is a major component of our agency’s grants and programs, requiring in-depth expertise in curriculum design, state and federal mandates, and school policy and culture.
Loss of Effectiveness and Impact
- The Oklahoma Arts Council is a model of efficiency, with an administrative budget of only 7%.
- With consolidation, the state could lose the impact of its return on investment. Investing in the state’s arts and cultural industry yields significant economic results, with $1 in public funding seeding $14 in private matching funds and $8 in local and state tax revenues.
- With recent and significant budget cuts, agency staff has doubled and even tripled its duties. All agency personnel with arts expertise perform or support multiple and non-duplicative functions. Consolidation would jeopardize service to constituents.
A Net Loss for Oklahoma
There is no assurance that the arts will be a future priority of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation. Oklahoma is stronger with an independent Oklahoma Arts Council that is fully devoted to supporting and developing an important statewide arts industry.