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Oklahoma Arts Council News

April 2023

Oklahoma Arts and Cultural Sector Growth Ranks 50th After Pandemic

The recovery of Oklahoma's arts and cultural sector jobs is the slowest in the nation, according to a new report released by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The report shows the contributions of the arts and cultural industry to the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) and captures the continued impact of the pandemic on the sector. Data from nonprofit and commercial arts and cultural entities is included. Nationwide, the economic value added by the arts from 2020-2021 grew, but groups within the arts—independent artists and performing arts organizations—have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Oklahoma-specific data shows that arts and cultural production accounts for 2.1 percent of the state's economy. Relative to other states, Oklahoma ranked 50th in the growth of arts and cultural employment in 2021. Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said the report shows the risk of failing to invest in the rebuilding of the sector.

"This report confirms our fears that without additional resources committed to the recovery of the arts and cultural sector, Oklahoma will fall behind other states," said Sharples. "To lure large corporations—and their jobs—to our state, we need every tool available to close the deal. An investment of pandemic relief funding in our sector by state leaders is essential for meeting this goal."

Read more about the report.

View the Oklahoma data.

Register Soon for OFTA's Arts & Culture Day at State Capitol

Oklahomans for the Arts' (OFTA) Arts & Culture Day 2023 is quickly approaching and Oklahomans in the arts sector statewide are encouraged to register soon for the event.

Set to take place Tuesday, April 18, at the Oklahoma State Capitol, the convening gives participants the opportunity to connect with legislators, learn about important legislative issues impacting the sector, receive training, and celebrate the importance of arts and culture in Oklahoma.

The day will start at 8:30 a.m. in the Capitol's second-floor rotunda. In addition to a kickoff event with remarks by special guests, the day will include a group photo, live music, and more.

Further details will be available soon from OFTA. Stay connected with them at

Register now for Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day 2023.

Leadership Arts Reunion Happening April 17

More than 300 Oklahomans have graduated from the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Artsprogram since 2008. Members of this invaluable network of community arts leaders are actively putting their knowledge and experience from the program to work in communities across the state.

On Monday, April 17, the Oklahoma Arts Council is bringing alumni of the program together in Oklahoma City for a special reunion. Designed to help Leadership Arts graduates stay in touch with their class members and expand their network with other alumni, the reunion program will include a tour of the Oklahoma State Capitol art collections, a meeting and reception in the Paseo Arts and Creativity Center, and dinner in the Paseo Arts District. The day begins at 1:00 p.m., and Leadership Arts alumni are encouraged to stay for Oklahoma Arts & Culture Day on Tuesday.

Alumni can RSVP for the Leadership Arts reunion by emailing

Read more about the reunion program here.

Schools Can Visit State Capitol through New Grant Program

With field trip season in full swing, schools statewide can bring students to the newly restored Oklahoma State Capitol for a one-of-a-kind educational experience in art, history, and government through a new grant program of the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Capitol Art Field Trip Grants are available on an ongoing basis to reimburse schools for travel to the Capitol where trained volunteer docents will provide students with a guided tour through six floors of the historic building. During their tour, students will view and learn about hundreds of works of art that tell the story of our state.

With a maximum reimbursement of $1,100—depending on a school's distance from the Capitol—allowable expenses include transportation, drivers, mileage, subtitute teachers and additional support staff.

The grant is designed to be easy for schools to access. Learn how to schedule a field trip and apply.

Creative Aging Webinar to Focus on Benefits of Dance, Movement

On Friday, April 21, the Oklahoma Arts Council will present a special webinar on the impact of dance and movement on the physical, emotional, and cognitive functions of older adults.

Facilitated by Erika Wilhite of the Oklahoma Arts Council, the webinar will feature a conversation with University of Oklahoma professor and aging researcher Dr. Julie Ober Allen, and Oklahoma City Ballet teaching artist Erica Portell. Both speakers will talk about their work with older adults and the positive impact of creative movement on the aging process. In addition to learning how to recruit and retain participants for creative aging programs, webinar attendees will hear about data that can support their efforts to get buy-in from stakeholders for creative aging programs.

The webinar will take place from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. on April 21. Click here to register.

For questions and accessibility needs, contact Erika Wilhite at or (405) 521-6280.

Apply for Citizens' Institute on Rural Design through April 21

Oklahoma communities of 50,000 people or less are encouraged to learn about two programs of the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) that can enhance quality of life and boost economic vitality.

Through CIRD, rural or tribal communities identify and address specific design challenges, with the goal of capitalizing on local assets through creative placemaking. CIRD features two programs: Local Design Workshops offer a deep dive into pressing design challenges and a stipend to host CIRD staff for workshops; Design Learning Cohorts feature virtual training sessions and public webinars led by experts, and opportunities to engage online with rural peers from around the country.

Entities that are eligible to apply include local and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, regional planning organizations, and universities.

Applications are due April 21.

CIRD is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council.

NEA Challenge America Deadline Approaching

Support for arts projects of smaller organizations nationwide is available through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge Americagrants, which offers $10,000 is funding through an abbreviated application process. The grant program is designed to extend the reach of the arts to groups and communities that are underserved and is an excellent entry point for organizations that are new to NEA funding.

Available to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, units of state or local government, and federally recognize tribal communities, Challenge America funds a wide variety of projects across artistic disciplines. Arts programming, marketing activities, organizational planning and more are projects that can be supported.

Applications for projects scheduled for 2024 are due April 27, 2023. 

Tech Access Conference Can Help You Reach Your Entire Audience

Hosted by Oklahoma ABLE Tech in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Oklahoma Department of Rehabilition Services, TechAccess Oklahoma is the state's premier web and technology accessibility conference. Offered for free, the eighth annual conference will take place April 18-20 on Zoom and will feature accessibility experts from across the country.

The purpose of TechAccess Oklahoma is to help organizations create accessible digital content that can reach and serve all people, include those with disabilities. Sessions can help organizations plan for these needs in creating documents, building websites, shooting videos, and more. Sessions run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and registrants can select to attend one or more.

Learn more and register here.

Organizations Can Apply to Manage State Poetry Out Loud Program

Oklahoma organizations interested in managing the annual state Poetry Out Loud competition can apply for the opportunity with the Oklahoma Arts Council through April 14.

Open to 501c(3) nonprofits, colleges and universities, and public libraries, up to $17,500 in grant funding will be awarded to the selected organization to support outreach to high schools across the state and to organize the state contest, including coordinating the winning student's participation and travel for the national competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Poetry Foundation. Through the program, students learn about greart poetry through memorization and recitation while mastering public speaking skills, building self-confidence, and learning about their literary heritage. Funding for the state program is provided by the NEA through the Oklahoma Arts Council as its state partner.

Apply to manage the program.

Lawton's AdyLynn Anderson Wins State Poetry Out Loud Competition

AdyLynn Anderson of Lawton High School won the state Poetry Out Loud competition in March and will move on to participate in the national finals in Washington, D.C., in May. Twenty Oklahoma high school students from across the state participated in the state competition, having won their individual school contests. Involving thousands of students nationwide, the program encourages the study of great poetry while helping students build public speaking skills, gain self-confidence, and learn about their literary history.

For winning first place, Anderson received $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to the national competition. Educators and students can learn more about the program and how they can participate at

The 2022-2023 state Poetry Out Loud competition was managed by Oklahoma A+ Schools Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma in partnership with the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and Poetry Foundation.