Talking Points: Arts Education in Oklahoma

Hundreds of arts and culture supporters will gather at the Oklahoma Capitol on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 to celebrate Oklahoma Arts Day.  Read our priorities for arts education below.
We request your support of school-based art teachers, arts integration and community arts and culture programs.

We affirm funding for the Oklahoma Arts Council as important to a well-rounded education statewide. 

We seek improved funding for public education that allows well-rounded learning including arts education.

For a child’s education to be complete, it must include the arts. Arts education---- music, dance, visual arts, drama/theatre and media arts-- prepares students for school, work and life. Students from early childhood to high school gain from arts education in multiple ways:

Talking Points: Why State Investment in Arts & Culture Matters

Hundreds of arts and culture supporters will gather at the Oklahoma Capitol on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 to celebrate Oklahoma Arts Day.  Read our legislative priorities and reasoning.


We affirm the Oklahoma Arts Council as an important agency.
We seek improved funding for the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Why the Oklahoma Arts Council Makes Economic Sense:

  • The Oklahoma Arts Council generates strong return on investment, leveraging an $8 return in state and local tax revenue on each $1 of seed funding.
  • Oklahoma Arts Council funds leverage more community support, with $1 in public investment attracting $14 in private match.
Julia Kirt
Templates: Describing Impact of Your Organization on Your Community

Arts and culture organizations vary widely in programs, mission and scope of who is served.

To describe our community impact to those who may not already understand, we should find effective ways to speak to the same community benefits they are seeking in a language they can understand.

In preparation for Oklahoma Arts Day (April 12, 2017), I encourage arts and culture organizations to update your information to share with legislators.

Here are some possible ways to describe your organization's’ outcomes in metrics commonly used by policy makers—return on investment and educational outcomes.

Julia Kirt
Updates from Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC

Amidst news of potential cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, a record 10 Oklahoma arts leaders traveled to Washington DC for Arts Advocacy Day this week. Americans for the Arts has organized the event for 30 years.

The timing couldn’t have been better for uniting with other advocates from across the country and informing our members of Congress about the positive impact of the National Endowment for the Arts in our state.

Julia Kirt
Advocacy Updates on National Endowment for the Arts

Federal decisions impact us locally.

This week The White House proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Library and Museum Services and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (and reduce funding to a whole lot of other agencies, as well).

This is not a done deal yet. Congress will weigh this proposal with their own priorities. Regardless of the budget amount, Congress would have to act for the agencies to be eliminated.

This is not just about arts and culture. This is about the economy, access, equity, community, history, and heritage.  The National Endowment for the Arts positively impacts Oklahoma.

Your voice matters!

Julia Kirt
What the Heck is Going on at the State Capitol?

Does the news from the Oklahoma Capitol seem a bit overwhelming?

The legislative schedule and state budget process defines that breakneck pace and huge volume this time of year.

Once the Legislature convenes on the first Monday in February (Feb 6 this year), the State Senate and House have less than a month to hear bills in committees.

The first committee deadline just passed. Since our state legislators submit thousands of bills, literally, we just finished the busiest time of filtering and decision-making.

Julia Kirt
How National Endowment for the Arts Benefits Oklahoma

Unofficial reports are circulating that the new Presidential administration will propose a budget that eliminates the National Endowments for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Oklahoma’s economy and education benefit greatly from the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These two federal agencies benefit rural, suburban and inner city areas all across America, including Oklahoma.

Arts advocates should speak up now to keep these important programs.

What is a Revenue Failure for Oklahoma?

Did you see the news about Oklahoma's "revenue failure?" That means state agencies, including the Oklahoma Arts Council, will have to cut funds out of their current year budget.

According to Finance Director Preston Doerflinger, $34.6 million overall will have to be cut by June 30 for this fiscal year. Current year reductions will total 0.7% of state agencies' budgets. 


The city of Edmond’s public art collection is a testament to the power of public investment in the arts and an incentive for arts advocates to get serious about electing pro-arts candidates to municipal office.

Over the last two decades, elected officials in Edmond have intentionally built public art funds into the city’s budget. Mayors, notably Randel Shadid, and City Councilmembers have worked together to build the infrastructure that has resulted in a public art collection of over 150 pieces valued at over $3.5 million.


The Norman Arts & Humanities Roundtable hosted their Legislative Forum on January 11, 2017. The Norman legislators raised short term concerns for state support for the arts and longer term tips for advocacy.

The local arts sector has hosted this forum almost annually for 30 years according to chair Norman Hammond. The Roundtable brings together leaders from most of the area’s arts and culture organizations for regular strategizing, networking and advocacy. Norman Arts Council coordinates the group.


This case study is part of a series investigating the variety of ways that Oklahoma communities invest municipal resources and funding in the arts. These stories illustrate how these investments, big or small, can have a positive impact on citizens, civic pride, tourism, and the general well-being of a place and its people.


The city of Alva invests in the arts through a combination of city/state partnerships and public/private partnerships. These partnerships function toward the goals of the Cultural District Initiative, (1) to increase Alva’s capacity for arts and cultural development, and (2) to cultivate inclusive improvement in social and economic life for residents of Alva.


Miami, Oklahoma is in the early stages of drafting and implementing a Cultural District Plan. Miami’s story is a useful template for communities wondering how to begin investing in arts and culture intentionally and systematically.

The recipe for Miami’s successful start has included good working relationships between arts leaders and civic leaders, a holistic vision for the role of the arts in Miami and a substantial dedication of time.


The City of Bartlesville understands the value of the arts for cultivating civic pride. And that long-standing disposition among civic leaders and community members has synthesized into a sustainable pro-arts culture in the city.

During Bartlesville’s boom oil years Phillips Petroleum brought substantial wealth to the city, and many residents and city officials wanted to invest in arts and culture to improve the city’s well-being and promote a positive sense of place.


This diagram show the ways students benefit from arts education in their schools and communities.

Each part of the arts education ecosystem is important to benefit students. As we advocate for more certified arts teachers in schools or more community arts groups serving neighborhoods, let’s respect the role of each.

Americans for the Arts and other national partners produced this diagram as part of their “Arts Education for American Students: A Shared Endeavor” statement.

Read the statement here.


Ada, Oklahoma is full of promising college students and passionate professors who would like to see more of those students stick around to invest in the city. Retaining young professionals after graduation is a mountain every college town tries to climb, and one that can feel steep in small-town Oklahoma.

Part of Ada’s answer is creating a young professional-friendly culture through the arts. The city has developed an Arts District and arts-friendly policies to encourage the growth of the arts sector so the sector can contribute to the city’s social and economic vitality.


Laws and policy are changing education standards and accountability. Oklahoma’s Department of Education is working now to decide how our state will implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Our State Department of Oklahoma is creating a State Plan in preparation for implementation of ESSA for the 2017-18 academic year. Each state must revise its accountability plan for success in education, which―in addition to items such as test scores―can include other indicators, such as measures of participation in arts instruction.

Take advantage of the important opportunities outlined on this handout to voice your support for arts education!