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Oklahoma Arts Council News

April 2017

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish Named Oklahoma State Poet Laureate

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has selected Dr. Jeanetta Calhoun Mish as the 2017-18 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. Mish is the director of The Red Earth Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA Program at Oklahoma City University where she also serves as faculty mentor in writing pedagogy, professional writing, and the craft of poetry. She is also the editor of Mongrel Empire Press, which was recognized as 2012 Publisher of the Year by the Woodcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

A scholar, poet, writer, and teacher whose career in poetry spans more than 20 years, Mish has presented poetry readings and workshops across the United States and advanced the careers of many Oklahoma writers. She has earned numerous awards for her creative writing and poetry. Her 2009 poetry collection, Work Is Love Made Visible (West End Press), won an Oklahoma Book Award, a Wrangler Award, and the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West.

The state poet laureate program is facilitated by the Oklahoma Arts Council on behalf of the Governor.

Read the Governor's announcement here.

Learn how we can help bring the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate to your community or school.

New Governor's Gallery Exhibition Features Work by Veterans

A new exhibition curated by the Oklahoma Arts Council in the Governor's Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol features artwork created by military veterans.

The photographs, paintings, and creative writing on display were produced during three 10-week courses led by professional teaching artists at the Norman Veterans Center. The courses were part of a pilot arts program initiated by the Oklahoma in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. The exhibition, Veterans: Experience & Expression, is on display through May 7. The Governor's Gallery is free and open weekdays 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

The pilot arts program was part of the Oklahoma Arts Council's Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative.

Arts Day at the Capitol Approaching

On Wednesday, April 12, supporters of the arts from across Oklahoma will be at the Oklahoma State Capitol for 2017 Oklahoma Arts Day, hosted by Oklahomans for the Arts (OFTA).

In addition to live music and art and the annual kick-off event, a special training session will be offered. According to OFTA, participants will notice changes to the 2017 event due to restoration work on the Capitol, however, the event will still provide an opportunity for Oklahoma's arts industry to come together in celebration of its impact on our state.

To view the schedule or register for 2017 Oklahoma Arts Day, visit

Two Oklahoma Educators Honored by NAEA

Susan Gabbard of Oklahoma City and Sarah Carnes of Yukon were among arts educators from across the nation honored for their work during the 2017 NAEA National Convention in New York City in early March.

The annual convention, hosted by the National Art Education Association, features the presentation of the NAEA Awards Program. Educators are recognized for excellence in the field and for setting standards for high quality art education. Our congratulations to Gabbard and Carnes for serving as examplary models of Oklahoma arts educators.

The opportunity to submit a nomination opens in October. Learn more about the awards here.

Oklahoma Students Earn Recognition for Art, Writing

Each year, students in grades 7-12 apply in 29 categories of arts and writing for consideration for awards presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, students recieve recognition, scholarships, and more.

A June 8 event in New York City will honor students who are receiving medals in select categories. Winners of the 2017 awards include 28 Oklahoma students representing photography, short story, film, painting, and other disciplines.

View winning artwork by Oklahoma students.

Learn more about the awards.

Lawton High Student Wins State's Poetry Out Loud Competition

Kristine Guerrero of Lawton High School will represent Oklahoma in the national finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition. In March, Guerrero won the state competition, where she competed against five other students from across the state. By winning the state competition, Guerrero earned a paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national finals, April 25-26.

Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history.

Educators interested in learning how their students can participate in the 2017-18 Poetry Out Loud competition can visit for more information. Schools represented by the first, second, and third-place winners in the state competition also earn awards.

Oklahoma's Poetry Out Loud competition is organized by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. The national contest is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in partnership with the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Read the announcement about Guerrero winning the competition.

NEA Creativity Connects Grant Program Deadline May 4

Through May 4, eligible organizations in Oklahoma can apply for a special category of the National Endowment for the Arts' Art Works grant program. Art Works: Creativity Connects grants are available to fund programs that include strong, committed partnerships between arts organizations and organizations from non-arts sectors.The initiative allows organizations to demonstrate how the arts are a robust tool in creativity and innovation across sectors.

Example non-arts organization partners include agriculture, business and economic development, science, healthcare, military, education, and others. Projects may include the creation of art works through collaborations, projects that use artistic practice to support the needs of non-arts sectors, projects that explore employing artists in fields outside of the arts, and more..

Grants require matching funds and will generally range from $20,000 to $100,000.

See examples of programs funded through Creativity Connects.

Learn more about Creativity Connects grants.

Cox Charities Invests in Communities through Arts Funding

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to 501(c)(3) organizations located and providing services within residential service areas of Cox Communications. Cox Community Investment Grants support programming for youth, education, social issues, and arts programs.

Guidelines require that programs leverage other funding (such as Oklahoma Arts Council funding), and the measurement of evaluation of program outcomes is expected. Statewide organizations that provide services in more than one Cox market may submit a grant application with some restrictions.

For complete details on grant guidelines, visit the Cox Charities website.

Deadline to submit a request in the grant category is May 1, 2017.

Encourage Students with Disabilities to Submit Artwork

The Department of VSA (Very Special Arts) and Accessibility at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is currently accepting submissions of artwork by student artists for the VSA International Art Program. Students in grades PreK-12 who receive special education services are eligible to participate. Group projects are accepted as long as all artists are students with disabilities.

Two- and three-dimensional artwork no larger than 18 x 24 inches will be accepted. Examples of media that can be submitted include painting, drawing, chalk pastel, mixed media, photography, and more. In addition to being displayed in an online exhibition, artwork may be selected to be part of a live exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Deadline to submit an entry is June 7, 2017. Guidelines can be viewed here.

Share this information with individuals and organizations that may be interested.

Submit an Inquiry for Mellon Foundation Funding

Support may be available from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for initiatives related to the arts, humanities, and cultural heritage. Areas of emphasis for arts and cultural funding include performing arts, art history, conservation, new media, diversity and inclusion programs, collaborations with institutions of higher education, and more.

The foundation requires prospective grantees to initially submit an inquiry about a specific project. Invitations will be extended to organizations whose projects fit within the foundation's grantmaking priorities. Guidelines for invited proposals are available here.

See examples of programs supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Learn more about Mellon Foundation grants.

Governor Appoints Beckman to Oklahoma Arts Council

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has appointed William E. Beckman Jr. of Edmond to the board of the Oklahoma Arts Council. Recognized as one of the nation's top self-insured workers compensation brokers, Beckman is a principal owner of the Beckman Company, one of the state's largest privately owned independent insurance agencies.

Originally from Muskogee, Beckman chaired several organizations in the community, including the Muskogee Planning Commission, the Muskogee Park Board, and the Muskogee Azalea Festival. He also served on the board of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum.

A longtime patron of museums and exhibitions worldwide, Beckman joins 14 other individuals from across the state who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate to provide oversight of the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Staff Spotlight: Finance Director at Home with Oklahoma Arts Council

The first time Allison McMichael heard about the Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC), she knew it was a place where she wanted to work. It was 2009, and McMichael, employed by another state agency, met the OAC's curator of Capitol galleries who was installing a new exhibition at the Capitol. Intrigued by their conversation, McMichael learned about the OAC's mission. In the following years, she would occasionally look for job openings with the agency, and, in 2015, when the OAC needed a finance assistant, McMichael applied and was hired. Just over a year later, McMichael moved to her current position as finance director, and despite working mostly with numbers and budgets and reports, she feels she belongs with the agency that serves the arts industry.

A native of Meeker, Oklahoma, McMichael's parents were involved in the arts when she was young. Among her father's many duties at a small school, he was a theater coach. While McMichael developed an appreciation of the arts early in life, her finance background led her to related positions as a public servant with the State of Oklahoma where she managed large-scale projects involving federal funding, contracting, procurement, and other procedures.

In contrast to her previous work, McMichael says being at the OAC, a small state agency, requires her to constantly switch gears. And, although the pace can be demanding at times, she likes the challenge, and she enjoys the fact that she learns something new every day.

Three things that surprised McMichael about the OAC:

  • The volume of grants handled by the agency
  • The relatively high percentage of funding that goes to rural areas
  • The priority placed on public service, and the amount of passion the staff displays

For questions, McMichael can be reached at (405) 521-2028 or