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Oklahoma Arts Council News

July 2020

Oklahoma Arts Council Accepting Nominations for Oklahoma State Poet Laureate


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 30, 2020) – The Oklahoma Arts Council is accepting nominations for the state’s next poet laureate through August 31, 2020. Nominations for the honorary position, appointed by the Governor, are accepted from poetry societies, libraries, local arts and humanities councils, colleges and universities, and writers’ groups.

Read the full news release.

Oklahoma Arts Conference Rescheduled to Spring 2021


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 16, 2020) – The Oklahoma Arts Council has rescheduled the 2020 Oklahoma Arts Conference, moving the statewide convening of artists, nonprofit administrators, community developers, educators, and others to spring 2021. The conference is now scheduled to take place in Muskogee, May 5-7.

Read the full news release.

More Than 100 Arts Organizations to Receive Oklahoma CARES Grants


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 8, 2020) – More than 100 nonprofit arts organizations across the state have been awarded Oklahoma CARES Grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Through the one-time grant opportunity, over $400,000 in funding is being provided to help arts-focused nonprofits keep jobs and maintain organizational stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full news release.

Pandemic, Oil Prices Lead to State Arts Cuts for FY21

The state's appropriation to the Oklahoma Arts Council for fiscal year 2021 will be $2,796,030, a reduction of four percent from the previous fiscal year.

Budget cuts across state government for the fiscal year, which began July 1, are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent drop in oil prices, both of which sharply reduced revenue to the state in the spring.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples commented on the agency's fiscal year 2021 state appropriation.

"With artists and arts organizations in our state already enduring unprecendented circumstances, it is difficult to learn that our agency will have less money available to invest in their work this year," Sharples said. "Nonetheless, as we continue providing grants and services statewide in the months ahead, our board and staff are resolved to pursuing all means possible of further assisting and bolstering the state's arts and cultural sector. We are focused on ensuring that the arts sector steadily weathers the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic."

CARES Act, Other Federal Arts Funding to Benefit Oklahomans

The National Endowment for the Arts announced its direct Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for Oklahoma organizations on July 1. Offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grants will support personnel and facilities expenses.

Six CARES Act grants totaling $300,000 will be provided by the National Endowment for the Arts directly to Oklahoma organizations that provide arts programming for their communities. Grantees include:

  • The University of Central Oklahoma (on behalf of Oklahoma A+ Schools) - $50,000

  • Muskogee Little Theatre - $50,000

  • University of Oklahoma - $50,000

  • Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center - $50,000

  • Oklahoma State University - $50,000

  • Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa - $50,000

Oklahoma Arts Council Funding Increased

The Oklahoma Arts Council will receive an increase in its federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for fiscal year 2021. The state partnership funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council of $796,650 was announced by the federal arts agency June 10.

Other Grants Announced

National Endowment for the Arts grants to several other Oklahoma arts and cultural organizations were also announced in the Endowment's latest round of grant funding. Organizations receiving funding include:

  • Arts & Humanities Council Tulsa (ahha Tulsa) - $20,000

  • Gilcrease Museum Management Trust - $40,000

  • Greatest Stories Never Told (Broken Arrow) - $10,000

  • Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center - $25,000

GRANT OPPORTUNITY: Apply for the Endowment's Grants for Arts Projects program by July 9. Funding of up to $100,000 is available.

Arts Nonprofits Eligible for Oklahoma Business Relief Program

Another CARES Act funding program is being made available through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce that can benefit Oklahoma arts and cultural nonprofits. Their Oklahoma Business Relief Fund program was announced by Governor Stitt on June 19. The program aims to help businesses and other eligible organizations that have suffered revenue loss due to COVID-19. A total of $50 million in federal CARES Act funding has been dedicated to the program by the Governor.

Through the program, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and other eligible entities can receive up to $25,000. At least 20 percent of the program funds will be designated for minority owned businesses.

Organizations interested in seeking funding should contact an eligible financial institution to apply for the program. The financial institution will assist the applicant through the process.

IMPORTANT: This is first-come, first-served. Arts and cultural organizations are urged to apply as soon as possible. July 10 is the final day to apply.

Learn how to apply at

Commit to Taking COVID-19 Survey Monthly

Data showing trends in the impact of COVID-19 on the state's arts sector is essential to recovery planning. State arts and cultural leaders need it in order to show public and private funders how the pandemic is leading to sizable losses in revenue, jobs, and overall economic impact in Oklahoma.

The primary tool being used to get state-level data is Americans for the Arts' (AFTA) COVID-19 Impact Survey. Data specific to Oklahoma is available on the AFTA dashboard.

Take the Survey Monthly

Oklahoma artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are asked to take the Americans for the Arts' COVID-19 Impact Survey every month. There is a survey for artists and creative workers, and there is a survey for organizations. Both require about five minutes to complete.

Click below to take the survey:

Commit to taking the survey monthly by adding a reminder to your calendar.

How to Acknowledge Our Support in Online/Virtual Settings

With Oklahoma organizations offering online and virtual arts programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oklahoma Arts Council has developed new guidelines to help grantees meet the requirement to acknowledge our support for their programs.

Arts organizations and other Oklahoma Arts Council grantees have quickly shifted during the pandemic, offering literary, performing, and visual arts programming in new, innovative ways. Through the document, Acknowledgment Requirements for Grantees: Online and Virtual Programs, the Oklahoma Arts Council outlines specific ways grantees can continue meeting the contractual obligations in their live online programs, social media posts, and recorded video production.

Included in the guidelines are examples of acknowledgments using chat windows, comment sections, online slideshows, and more. Ideas for acknowledging Oklahoma Arts Council support in social media posts, including the use of tags and hashtags are also provided.

Review acknowledgment requirements and download the new guidelines here.

Nominations Being Accepted for Community Spirit Awards

First Peoples Fund is accepting nominations for its Community Spirit Awards program through July 31. The awards celebrate exceptional Native artists and culture bearers across the United States who embody the cultural assets of their people through their creations and way of life. Since 2000, First Peoples Fund has recognized more than 100 artists through the program for increasing awareness and understanding of the cultural values of their people.

Nominees can be practicing Native artists in any discipline who have engaged in their art form for at least 10 years. Selected honorees will receive $7,500 to help them carry on their work.

Click here to learn how to submit a nomination.

Relief Grants Available to Craft Artists

CERF+ is offering relief grants for artists working in craft disciplines who are facing dire circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oklahoma artists working in craft disciplines including clay, glass, metal, textiles, and wood, can apply for $1,000 COVID-19 Relief Grants to help meet urgent food, housing, and health-related needs.

Funding is being made available during two grant cycles. The first deadline is July 29. The second deadline is September 9. CERF+ will prioritize artists who have traditionally been underserved by the grantmaking community, including people of color and folk and traditional artists.

CERF+ is a nonprofit dedicated to helping artists working in craft disciplines nationwide safeguard their livelihoods.

Learn more about the grant opportunity.

Jazz Road Creative Residency Applications Coming in 2020

Coming in late 2020, a new program of the Jazz Road initiative will give mid-career jazz artists the opportunity to further explore their work. Jazz Road Creative Residencies is set to launch later in the year, providing grants that will support community-based residencies of two weeks or more.

The residency program is part of the Jazz Roadinitiative, administered by South Arts in partnership with five U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. In addition to strengthening work opportunities and compensation for artists, Jazz Road aims to bolster engagement between musicians, presenters and artists.

Look for more information on Jazz Road Creative Residencies in the coming months.

RELATEDJazz Road Tours is a program that provides funding directly to emerging and mid-career jazz artists to cover a portion of touring expenses. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

NEA Big Read Grants to Benefit Oklahoma

Community reading programs will be coming soon to Tulsa and Stillwater, thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Big Readinitiative.

Funding totaling $30,000 will be provided to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa and the Stillwater Public Library as grantees to organize reading programs for Oklahomans in their areas. Related activities will take place between September 2020 and June 2021 and may be in person or virtual.

Through the Big Read, grantees organize and lead activities related to a book chosen from the Big Read library. Oklahoma grantees were among 84 selected nationally to lead projects for their communities. Books chosen for the two Oklahoma projects will be:

The goal of the Big Read initiative is to use literature to broaden perspectives of our world, our communities, and ourselves. Learn more about the Big Read.

Governor Appoints Three to Oklahoma Arts Council Board

Governor Kevin Stitt has appointed three new Oklahomans to the board of the Oklahoma Arts Council. Joining the board are Melinda Adwon, Deanna Cardenas, and Stephania Grober.

Cardenas' appointment began in June as a replacement for a board member who stepped down. Cardenas is from Oklahoma City. Adwon and Grober are Tulsa residents. Their terms began with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Fifteen Oklahomans are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate to serve on the governing body of the Oklahoma Arts Council. The board is responsible for oversight of the agency's budget and programs, including the investment of more than 350 grants awarded by the agency each year.