Oklahoma Arts Council Suspends Programs Due to Budget Cuts

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Unfortunately, the Oklahoma Arts Council has announced the suspension of the Leadership Arts Program due to ongoing budget cuts and current budget uncertainty. We need to make sure our state legislators, who lead the state budgeting process, know how much this will hurt our state. 

Leadership Arts is a cornerstone program for developing local leaders across the state. No other program exists like it and it has graduated more than 300 individuals from 90 communities in its 10-year history. Our state will miss out on many economic and community-building opportunities without this program.  

For years we have watched as the Oklahoma Arts Council has weathered 46% budget reductions prudently, protecting our communities from as much of the negative impact as possible. The Oklahoma Arts Council has been cut more than most other state agencies, but has kept their level of service high.

First the agency reduced administrative costs as much as possible, cutting back staff through attrition from 17 to 12 members (a 30% reduction). Meanwhile they have tried to keep most of their unique service afloat.

As cuts have compounded, we have watched the Oklahoma Arts Council spread the cuts across many programs and services and across the state so that our whole sector has faced the challenge together rather than one set of communities or size of organizations.

Without the prospect of increased state appropriations, the Oklahoma Arts Council is reluctantly forced to suspend or limit programs. With almost half their budget appropriation cut, the following program reductions or suspensions have been announced to date:

  • Leadership Arts: suspended
  • Reductions in community grant amounts, reducing number of grants and communities reached.
  • Oklahoma’s New & Emerging Arts Leaders (ONEAL): suspended
  • Performing & Teaching Artist Rosters: inactive
  • Performing Arts Corps: inactive
  • Capitol Art Travel Subsidies: inactive
  • Teaching with Capitol Art:  inactive
  • Capitol Galleries: inactive
  • Not to mention unseen impacts such as reduced outreach, like that to schools, and limited technical assistance.  

See the Oklahoma Arts Council’s impact report for more on their current programs, impact and cuts.

SPEAK UP: 

We cannot let these cuts continue to harm our communities. Since we know these programs impact education, community development and the economy, we must speak up for funding the Oklahoma Arts Council.

If you’re a Leadership Arts Alum, please use this link to write your legislators about the importance of the program and agency. 

If you have seen your community positively impacted by the Oklahoma Arts Council, please make sure your legislators know by writing them now.

The next legislative is about to begin. Please let us know if you want to get involved in other ways to advocate for every Oklahoman to be able to benefit from the arts.