November 25

Thankfulness Across the State

I just finished traveling around the state for the Oklahoma Arts Council’s grant workshop and listening sessions.

We visited five locations around the state, Muskogee, Tulsa, Lawton, Ada and OKC (I missed Woodward, sadly, but hear it was a lively group!) and talked with more than 160 educators, artists, volunteers, civic and business leaders and arts administrators.

Hearing the ideas of these incredible community leaders and being reintroduced to the Oklahoma Arts Council’s programs and planning made me want to give a bit of Thanksgiving gratitude.

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Oklahoma Arts Council staffers Joshua Lunsford, Whitney Cross Moore & Amy Weaver with OFTA director Julia Kirt (blue jacket)

I am thankful that…

1. State leaders has the foresight to establish the Oklahoma Arts Council almost 50 years ago. Their decision and the funding of the agency have built a profound ongoing impact around the state on education, community well being and the economy.

Besides funding, the Oklahoma Arts Council’s  technical assistance and leadership development programs clearly have improved the arts sector, helping the arts serve more Oklahomans of all ages. I was blown away (again) by the direct and tangible benefits of having a backbone agency for our state.

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Leadership Arts alum Miriam Costilow from Hugo speaks to 10 school board a year about arts education!

2. Arts and culture leaders have amazing visions for our state and are willing to put in the hard work. I know this from meeting individuals from so many different towns of all sizes.

At  each regional meeting Oklahoma Arts Council Deputy Director Amy Weaver asked participants to share their visions for arts and culture in our state. Everyone had strong responses. Many dream of motivating every student with the arts. Others talked about the importance of public arts to their communities’ uniqueness. Many talked about attracting visitors and building their local economies.

These participants don’t just dream up ideas, though. These folks work to serve all kinds of people and grow our state. I ran into arts volunteers who have been helping for 20 plus years.

Community Arts Director Joshua Lunsford presents in Muskogee

Community Arts Director Joshua Lunsford presents in Muskogee

3. Advocacy has moved up arts and culture leaders’ priorities. As we talked about ways to improve the state, we acknowledged the importance of resources for the arts to reach all Oklahomans.

That was my role after people shared their dream, I presented about the importance of advocacy to keep funding for the arts a priority. I asked for their help and many joined Oklahomans for the Arts on the spot or offered other assistance.

Thanks to the Oklahoma Arts Council for organizing the regional meetings and to all the inspiring participants.