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Oklahoma Arts Council News

March 2017

Statement on Proposal to Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts Funding

On March 16, the White House released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, calling for reductions to a range of government programs and the elimination of federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In light of the president's proposal, it is important to remember that Congress ultimately decides how to allocate federal funds. The proposal is the beginning of a conversation, one in which Oklahomans can actively participate.

As a state agency, the Oklahoma Arts Council does not design or coordinate advocacy efforts. However, part of our mandate is to educate Oklahomans about the impact of the arts in communities and schools across our state. So, as always, we invite you to use us as a resource for information, and allow us to serve you as a connector.

Should you be interested in advocacy efforts at the state and national level, we suggest you connect with our friends at Oklahomans for the Arts and Americans for the Arts.

Further, we invite you to embrace this moment as an opportunity: to express your passion for the arts, articulate the impact the arts have had on your life and in your community, and actively engage in this process by which our nation proclaims its values and vision.

In the meantime, we will be here, as we have been for more than 50 years, working to ensure that all Oklahomans can experience the benefits of the arts and arts education.

Thank you for all you do to serve your community through the arts.


Amber Sharples
Executive Director
Oklahoma Arts Council

Arts Education Presentation Highlights Path to 21st Century Workforce

Oklahomans with an interest in using arts education to prepare students for college and beyond attended a special presentation on February 28 in Oklahoma City. Communities statewide were represented at the Oklahoma Arts Education Research Presentation, where the results of work performed by the Oklahoma SP3 Task Force were highlighted. Led by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the task force seeks to bolster public policy related to arts education in Oklahoma.

As the featured presenter, Linda Wurzbach of Resource for Learning, LLC. explained how her organization was asked by the task force to identify research showing strong evidence of arts education's positive impact on student development. Wurzbach guided attendees through a brainstorming exercise to foster ideas for using the research to meet various needs within the education system.

In conjunction, the Oklahoma Arts Council released two publications resulting from the work of the SP3 task force.

Click below to download the publications.

Efforts are ongoing to equip policymakers with the information they need to strengthen education and build a 21st century workforce in Oklahoma.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the SP3 page on our website.

Oklahoma Arts Council Program Featured in National Military Guide

A new national guide produced by Americans for the Arts (AFTA) on community arts and military programming features the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative.

Arts Deployed: An Action Guide for Community Arts & Military Programming is part of AFTA's efforts to engage and support arts organizations in providing access to the benefits of the arts for active duty servicemen and women, veterans, and military family members.

The guide explains how the arts can uniquely meet the needs of the military population. From a checklist for creating programming to addressing ways to fund programs, the guide offers over 40 pages of instruction and resources. The Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative is among six state agency programs featured in the guide.

View the guide here.

Learn more about the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative.

OFTA Announces 2017 Arts Day

On April 12, arts organizations, artists, and others from across the state will gather for Oklahoma Arts Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Hosted by Oklahomans for the Arts (OFTA), the state's nonprofit arts advocacy organization, Arts Day is a celebration of the role that the arts play in benefiting our state. In 2016, more than 1,000 people participated in the event. The 2017 event will take place from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Capitol.

To register for the event, visit OFTA's website.

Click here to learn more about Oklahoma Arts Day.

(Note: Capitol renovations will impact this year's Arts Day event, so be sure to check OFTA's website often for updates on what to expect.)

Challenge America Grants Can Support 'Smaller' Projects

Grants of $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts can assist organizations with extending the reach of the arts to populations that have limited access to them.

Grants in the Challenge America category generally support projects that are smaller in scale and shorter in duration than projects that receive funding through the NEA's Art Works program. Funding assists with providing access to individuals who may be limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.

Supported in this category are only projects that feature a guest artist, the unified promotion of community-wide arts activities, or the development of professionally director public art projects.

First deadline to apply for Challenge America grants is April 13.

Learn more about Challenge America grants here.

Downtown Oklahoma City Issues RFP

Central Oklahoma artists or artist teams are encouraged to submit proposals for the Artist Invitational initiative of Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. The program provides artists with a platform for submitting ideas for public art and placemaking in the city's urban core.

The selection committee is open to a variety of ideas, including submissions for street art, sculptures, murals, signage and wayfinding arts, art that encourages public interaction, and more. Locations may include walls, parks, empty storefronts, underpasses, and other spaces.

The call for proposals is limited to artists residing in a 10-county area of central Oklahoma. Submissions are due March 15.

Application procedures, budget information, and additional details are available here.

Download the RFP here.

Read about artwork created previously through the Artist Invitational program.

OVAC Offering Artist Fellowships, Student Awards

Resident Oklahoma artists and student artists working toward graduate or undergraduate degrees can apply for awards through a program of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Awards of $5,000 are available to artists working in all media through the Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowships program. Awards of $500 are available through the Student Awards of Excellence. Brochures featuring the work of winning artists will be distributed to hundreds of galleries and curators across the nation.

Criteria for judging includes quality of work, originality of vision, technical expertise, and artist's record of professional activity and achievement.

Applications are due April 14. Click here to learn more.

Tribal Heritage Grants Available from National Park Service

March 24 is the deadline to submit applications for Tribal Heritage Grants through the National Park Service. The program aims to assist American Indian tribes, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiian organizations with protecting and promoting their unique cultural heritage and traditions.

Federally recognized tribes can apply for the funding, which supports a wide range of cultural and historic preservation projects including preservation planning, documentation of cultural traditions, identification of cultural resources, and more.

Learn more about the program and view past recipients.

Download the guidelines for the FY 2017 Tribal Heritage Grant Program.

Amphion Foundation Grants for Contemporary Concert Music

Nonprofit performing ensembles, presenters, and music service organizations with a history of commitment to contemporary concert music may be eligible for funding through the Amphion Foundation. Eligible organization types include chamber ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, and more.

Project support may be provided for programs that begin between September 2017 and August 2018. Some organizations may be eligible for operating support. Grants generally range up to $7,500.

The deadline for grant proposals is April 1.

View the Amphion Foundation website for details.

Oklahoma Students Prepare for State's Poetry Out Loud Finals

Six Oklahoma high school students are preparing to compete for the chance to represent Oklahoma at the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C.

Facilitated by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park (OSP), the Oklahoma state Poetry Out Loud finals are scheduled Saturday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m. The event take place at OSP's Shakespeare on Paseo space in Oklahoma City's Paseo Arts District.

Students competing in this year's state finals include:

  • Alexus Bender (MacArthur High School)

  • Emily Cole (Bethany High School)

  • Kristine Guerrero (Lawton High School)

  • Piper Lloyd (Bethany High School)

  • Gracie O'Rorke (Bethel High School)

  • Garrett Thomas (Stillwater High School)

The winner of the state finals will represent Oklahoma in the national finals in April.

A program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with The Poetry Foundation, 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 and contemporary life.

Learn how schools can implement the Poetry Out Loud program.

Oklahoma Arts Council Roster Artist Earns NAACP Image Award

Oklahoma City children's book author Gwendolyn Hooks recently received an NAACP Image Award for her book, Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas. Author of 17 books, Hooks and the book's illustrator, Colin Bootman, were recognized in the Outstanding Literary Work - Children category. The 48th annual awards event took place Feburary 11 in Pasadena, California.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the achievements and performances of people of color in the arts. Winners are selected in 55 categories.

Hooks is a member of the Oklahoma Arts Council's Teaching Artist Roster. She is available to present creative writing workshops in school settings and community sites such as libraries, senior center, art centers, and more. To learn about her workshops, or to find out how we can help bring Hooks to your school or community, visit her page on our website.

Get to Know Deputy Director Chandra Boyd

Chandra Boyd is only a few months in to her job as Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) deputy director, and as she's growing in to the new position, Boyd appreciates how previous roles have prepared her.

For the past two years, as OAC arts learning in communities director, Boyd spearheaded the Oklahoma Arts and the Military Initiative and the pilot arts program at the Norman Veterans Center. Prior to that, Boyd spent 13 years on staff in the education department of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Though having years of experience in the state's arts scene, Boyd says she didn't understand the full scope of the Oklahoma Arts Council's services until becoming deputy director.

"I went from having one focus (as arts learning in communities director) to working closely with people in several roles," says Boyd, now providing oversight of the many areas managed by program staff.

Facilitating coordination and communication among various OAC projects, Boyd's aim is to connect ideas and goals among the staff. To do this, she hopes to empower staff members to see the broader vision for how the arts have the power to transform lives – something she witnessed firsthand at the Norman Veterans Center.

"Veterans were speaking again and being social, they were energized and engaged," says Boyd.

It is this kind of life-changing spark that Boyd wants the agency to generate as it serves Oklahomans in every corner of the state.

Fun facts about Chandra:

  • A self-described "policy nerd" who loves project management

  • Public service runs in her family – her dad was a police officer

  • Credits childhood dance lessons with making her resilient

Contact Oklahoma Arts Council Deputy Director Chandra Boyd at (405) 521-2021 or