Building bridges

The Oklahoma Arts Council, which supports arts and education through grants, developing programs and services for the arts, wants that economic boom to continue.

“We’ve seen an explosion of the arts and cultural industry in Oklahoma,” says Kim Baker, executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council. “In a 2009-10 economic impact study we had commissioned by the Americans for the Arts, there were 10,000 positions employed in the arts and cultural industry.”

To help encourage continued growth, the Oklahoma Arts Council once again will host the 2012 Oklahoma Arts Conference: “Building Bridges to Vibrant Communities,” on Oct. 23 and 24 at the Skirvin Hilton.

It features two days of professional development and networking opportunities for artists, arts organizations, community leaders, students and others in the industry.

“This will be the fifth year for the conference, and the two days have curriculum like workshops and seminars for artists and arts leaders,” says Molly O’Connor, cultural development director for the council.

Industry experts will discuss a variety of topics, including visual arts, dance and creative writing, among others. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett will deliver the keynote speech.

“We’ve seen tremendous partnerships and collaborations come from the state Arts Conference in the past – things we couldn’t even predict,” O’Connor says. “When we have a chance to come together – organizations big and small – to communicate and share their passion, amazing things happen.”

An example is the Oklahoma Network for Emerging Arts Leaders, or ONEAL, a free organization for individuals age 35 and younger or those with fewer than five years’ experience in arts administration or business. Created through the 2008 conference, ONEAL has grown with members who are artists, gallery owners, educators, college students, arts administrators, community volunteers, musicians, performers, writers, tribal and cultural representatives, and creative entrepreneurs.

“In addition to the two days of curriculum, we’ll also have networking opportunities and luncheons,” O’Connor says. “There’s a ton of creative activity and creative people that make this a vibrant and fun experience.”

For more information, call 521-2931 or visit


Oklahoma Arts Council FY 2011 Annual Report

FY11 Expenditures by Program
• Community Arts Programs $3,558,820
• Arts Education in Schools 579,817
• Arts Learning in Communities 720,687
• Administration 386,396
• Public Awareness 245,984
Total $5,491,704

In FY11, the Oklahoma Arts Council
• Served 100 communities and 56 counties
• Provided 560 grants to 311 organizations
and schools
• Total cost of funded projects was $54.6 million

FY11 Funding Sources
• State Appropriations $4,406,689
• Federal–NEA Grants $845,400
• Interagency–SDE $40,950
• OK Humanities Council $20,000
• FY2010 Remainder $198,665
Total $5,511,704

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