Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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The Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) is the state government agency responsible for increasing Oklahomans' access to the arts. Created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1965 to encourage and stimulate all forms of artistic endeavors, the council is governed by fifteen private citizens appointed by the governor to serve three-year terms. The agency receives appropriations from the Oklahoma Legislature and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. From headquarters in the Capitol Complex in Oklahoma City, seventeen full-time staff assist in carrying out the agency's mission.

The legislation of 1965 included several directives. The agency was mandated to consider the whole state of the arts, cultural activities, and cultural heritage of Oklahoma. The purview was not be limited to but includes music, theater, dance, opera, graphic arts, plastic arts, architecture, poetry, or any other art form, regardless of period, school, or type. Full attention is to be given to art festivals, art exhibits, and other like endeavors. The agency was also directed to survey the artistic and cultural activities and facilities of the state, and the institutions, organizations or individuals engaged in these undertakings, to study information collected and prepare proposals for the study, practice, and presentation of the arts. The goal of study was to foster conferences, institutions, and exhibits on the arts. The council was directed to report to the governor and legislature on recommendations and suggestions for the expansion and improvement of the arts and for wider opportunity of participation in these activities by citizens. Another directive was to publish any reports, surveys, news bulletins, or other materials pertaining to its findings, recommendations, and work

By actively pursuing its mission, the Oklahoma Arts Council nurtures and supports a thriving arts environment that is essential to the state's quality of life, education, and economic vitality. OAC strategically invests nearly 90 percent of its annual budget appropriation in Oklahoma's growing nonprofit arts sector. This appropriation, approximately $4 million a year, commonly referred to as public funding for the arts, has an annual economic impact exceeding $270 million. Public funding for the arts helps offset the cost of bringing the arts, such as operas, ballets, symphonies, visual and performing arts, festivals, and museums, to all Oklahomans.

The council sustains Oklahoma's vibrant nonprofit arts industry in a variety of ways. The council awards approximately twelve hundred matching grants a year to cultural organizations, schools, and local governments. The purpose of these grants is to increase the resources that are available to nonprofit organizations as they produce community arts and arts education programs throughout the state. OAC supports opportunities for all Oklahomans to create, perform, or attend arts activities. These opportunities, in turn, produce thriving cities and interesting towns and make communities better places to live. The agency fosters education through the arts and supports efforts to implement the arts as part of the core curriculum for all students in every Oklahoma school.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Arts, Humanities Council Bill OK'd," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 24 June 1965. "Oklahoma Arts Council," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma Statutes 53:163 (1965).

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