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Oklahoma Arts Council News

December 2022

Governor Stitt Appoints Jay Snider of Cyril as 2023-2024 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate

OKLAHOMA CITY (December 19, 2022) – Jay Snider of Cyril, Oklahoma, has been appointed by Governor J. Kevin Stitt to serve as the 2023-2024 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate.

Read the full announcement...

Lawton to Host 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference

For the first time since the Oklahoma Arts Conference began in 2007, Lawton will serve as host site of the biennial convening of the state's arts and cultural sector!

Plan and Budget for October
The 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference will take place October 17-19. As you budget for the next fiscal year, be sure to include consider registration and travel costs to attend the conference.

About Lawton
The southwest Oklahoma community—the largest outside the state's two metropolitan areas—is home to a number of cultural institutions, including the Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton Ft. Sill Art Council, Arts for All, Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, Lawton Philharmonic, and Leslie Powell Art Gallery, among others. With Ft. Sill Army Base nearby, the arts community serves a large population of military families.

"The Lawton community put together an excellent proposal to host the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference," said Molly O'Connor, Oklahoma Arts Council assistant director. "The city has a strong core group of artists and individuals in their arts community who are eager to show off the many cultural assets of the area. We are delighted to partner with Lawton leadership as we begin putting together a memorable and invaluable experience for hundreds of Oklahomans who will travel here for the conference."

Jason Poudrier, arts and humanities administrator for the City of Lawton, one of two community co-chairs for the conference, said, "The City of Lawton is beyond excited to host the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference and share with the rest of Oklahoma its beautiful heritage and culture exhibited through its burgeoning arts scene that is built upon collaboration of multiple nonprofit, municipalities, civic groups and organizations, and tribal governments. We welcome Oklahoma to witness the growth of arts and businesses in Lawton Fort Sill during the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference."

Mark your calendars now for the 2023 Oklahoma Arts Conference, October 17-19, in Lawton!

New! Alternative Education Schools Can Apply for Performing Arts Grant

Live performing arts experiences that motivate and inspire students can be part an effective instructional strategy for alternative education schools. Their benefits include student engagement with unique content, interaction with local performing arts professionals, and insight into careers in the performing arts.

To empower qualifying schools to provide students with these opportunities, the Oklahoma Arts Council is now offering up to $2,000 in funding for eligible programming during the 2022-23 school year through Performing Arts Experience Grant for Alternative Education. Schools must be identified by the Oklahoma State Department of Education as alternative education sites in order to apply.

Funding from the grant program can be used to host a performing artist or group for an in-school concert or to take students on a field trip to experience the performing arts. Artist fees and travel, student travel expenses (may include car or bus rental fees), student ticket or admission costs, and consummable supplies related to the program can be paid for through program. Disciplines that qualify include dance, drama, iterary arts, media arts, and music.

Deadline to apply is 60 days before the start of the program.

For more information, visit or contact arts education director Jennifer Allen-Barron at or (405) 521-2036.

Funding for this program is made available through the Oklahoma State Department of Education's federal coronavirus relief funds to address disruptions in learning experiences by students due to the pandemic.

Experience the Capitol Galleries During the Holidays

The holidays are an ideal time to visit the Oklahoma State Capitol and view the abundance of artwork on display in what is state's largest public art museum. In addition to the historic portraits, murals, and sculptures located throughout the recently restored Capitol, the Oklahoma Arts Council manages three rotating galleries featuring exhibitions by current Oklahoma artists. Learn more about current exhibitions below.

North Gallery
Field of Vision
Rachel Hayes (Tulsa)
Closes January 13

East Gallery
In One Accord
Michael Elizondo, Jr. (El Reno)
Closes January 13

Governor's Gallery
Old Way, New Day
Karin Walkingstick (Claremore)
Closes January 13

Join us for a public reception for all three exhibitions will take place January 12 at 4:00 p.m.

Portfolio submission

Oklahoma artists interested in exhibiting their artwork in the Capitol galleries can submit their portfolios to the Oklahoma Arts Council for consideration.

Become a Capitol docent!

The Oklahoma Arts Council is currently accepting applications for the inaugural class of Oklahoma State Capitol docents! Volunteer docents play an essential role in providing extraordinary experiences for visitors at the Capitol by leading tours and sharing in-depth stories of Oklahoma art, history, and government. Learn more and complete a docent application here.

Be a Grant Review Panelist for the Oklahoma Arts Council

Applications are accepted year-round from Oklahomans interested in serving as grant review panelists for the Oklahoma Arts Council. Panelists provide valuable input in the agency's review of hundreds of grant applications. In addition to helping assure programs supported by public funding are reflective of the people of Oklahoma and their communities, grant review panelists receive compensation and gain valuable insight into the grant application and assessment processes.

The Oklahoma Arts Council seeks individuals of all backgrounds to serve as grant review panelists. An online form is available for individuals interested in applying. Applicants should be prepared to demonstrate how their knowledge and experience in the arts will benefit the grant review process. Learn more and apply here.

Oklahomans Among First M-AAA Artist Leadership Fellows

Designed to strengthen the professional skills of the next generation of artist leaders in the region, Mid-America Arts Alliance's (M-AAA) new Artist Leadership Fellows program brought together its first cohort in November. The group included two Oklahomans—Kalyn Fay Barnoski of Tulsa and Lydia Cheshewalla of Skiatook. Nominated by community partner organizations, artists selected for the program represent a wide range of disciplines and perspectives.

For the program, artist fellows meet virtually with senior artist peer facilitators over eight weeks, exploring and developing professional aspects of their work as community arts leaders. Goal-setting, financial strategy, marketing, contracts, time management, self-care, and more are topics of focus. In addition to acquiring a framework of information to help them manage their careers, artists leave the program with a new network of peers from across the region.

Additional Artist Leadership Fellow cohorts are planned for 2023. Artists who participate receive honoraria of $500. Learn more here.

Clinton, Oklahoma, Earns $90K Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant

Clinton, Oklahoma, has been announced as one of only a handful of communities nationwide selected for the 2023–2025 Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series. Through the program, which includes a $90,000 multi-year matching grant award, the western Oklahoma community will present 10 free outdoor concerts annually for the public in 2023, 2024, 2025.

The goal of the Levitt program, which serves small to mid-sized towns and cities, is to inject new life into public spaces and create vibrant community destinations.

For the Clinton concerts, Scissortail Productions—the nonprofit partner on the project—will present bands in a historic WPA-era bandshell in McClain-Rogers Park, with the goal of rejuvenating the Route 66 community's history as a hub for arts and culture in western Oklahoma. See more about the Levitt AMP Clinton Music Series.

Participate in NASAA Session on Older Americans and the Arts

An upcoming online learning session offered for free by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) will highlight a newly released report by Culture Track showing ways arts and cultural can serve vital needs of older adults in their communities.

"Untapped Opportunity: Older Americans & The Arts"will showcase new data from people over 55 years of age illustrating how older adults view the potential for the arts to facilitate a feeling of belonging, provide opportunities for learning, and contribute to a sense of achievement.

Offered for free, the NASAA web session will feature a presentation on clear and actionable items from the report. Arts administrators, artists, staff of social service organizations, and others involved in creative aging programs are invited to register.

"Untapped Opportunity: Older Americans & The Arts"
December 6, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time
Register here

NEA Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants Available

The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance has announced a funding opportunity for projects that serve military-connected individuals. Applications for Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants are open through January 19.

Available to nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognized tribal communities, grants can support projects serving active duty service members, guardsmen, reservists, veterans, families, and caregivers. Projects require at least one partner and must be led by at least one organization with a history of creative or artistic programming. Two categories of support are available, including:

Emerging – up to $10,000 for one-year projects to develop and implement new or emerging nonclinical arts engagement programs

Advanced – $10,000 to $25,000 for one-year projects or up to $50,000 for two-year projects

View projects that were awarded last year.

Learn more about grant program and apply at

Sarah Pugh Sees Public Art as Community Connector

For Sarah Pugh, art has often been a doorway for experiencing other cultures. Though she's learned much traveling the world as an international buyer and member of a military family, Pugh says travel has its limitations while art is limitless in its ability to broaden understanding and appreciation of the world around us. She values the role cultural objects and other forms of art offer as "vehicles for experiencing" other cultures. It's a view she brings to her role as the Oklahoma Arts Council's new Art in Public Places Program Assistant, where she provides support in the agency's facilitation of state public art projects.

Pugh believes public art is something that can change people's perspectives about how they see and experience their day. She thinks of public art as similar to landmarks such as the Eifel Tower and similar to ancient temples and European churches. Such buildings, she says, were not just created to be utilitarian, but to include an aesthetic that reflected the culture of their society.

"They can convey a lot without telling you anything," said Pugh. "They make you feel a certain way when you walk in or look at it."

Pugh grew up in a family that valued the arts. When she heard about the job opening with the Oklahoma Arts Council, she felt immediately drawn to it. Though still early in the learning curve, Pugh has been privy to the process of several current projects.

In October, she sat in on a committee for the selection of an artist to create a mural at the Lawton Ft. Sill Regional Airport. She also traveled to Lawton to see the space and meet with the artist finalists—an experience that allowed her to observe the artists' thought process as they considered things like the texture of the walls and the amount of light available.

More recently, Pugh traveled to Okemah with several Oklahoma Arts Council staff members to meet with members of the community who want to incorporate public art in Okemah's tourism and economic development planning.

The constant variety is something Pugh enjoys. As she experiences new opportunities in her work, she looks forward to ensuring public art projects serve as doorways for connecting state government with the interests and needs of the communities they serve.

Sarah Pugh can be reached at (405) 521-2039 or

Celebrating Staff Milestones

The staff of the Oklahoma Arts Council is our agency's most valued resource. Each member is thoroughly committed to public service, cherishing the chance to meet the needs of the arts sector and build the state using the transformative power of the arts. Below, we celebrate milestones of Oklahoma Arts Council staff members.

Amber Sharples Celebrates 16 Years

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples celebrates 16 years with the agency in December. Sharples began her journey with the agency as the Visual Art Director and Collections Manager for the Capitol artwork. One of her first projects was installing the first exhibition in the original Betty Price Gallery for its 2007 opening. She served as Assistant Director before becoming Executive Director in 2013. Congrats to Amber on 16 successful years serving and leading the agency!