The Oklahoma Arts Council

Prior to 1965 public funding for the arts in Oklahoma was virtually non-existent. The arts were mostly accessible in coastal and affluent areas of the United States.

Realizing the importance of giving all Americans, in rural and urban areas, access to arts and culture, President Johnson signed legislation in 1965 making federal arts funding available to states that created state arts agencies and matched federal dollars.

Following the rest of the nation’s move to invest in culture, Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon signed legislation creating what would become the Oklahoma Arts Council. Since the Council’s creation, funding for the arts has created a unique partnership between federal, state and private entities to ensure all Oklahomans have access to arts and culture.

Since 1965 thousands of grants funded through appropriations from the State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts have made it possible for over 1000 organizations to produce community arts and arts education programs throughout Oklahoma.

While the Oklahoma Arts Council’s budget is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the state government’s budget, the Council’s grants have a powerful multiplying effect, generating $13 in private matching dollars for every $1 granted (fiscal year 2014).

Prior to 1965 large metropolitan areas or other states were the only places Oklahomans could go to experience and participate in the arts. Because of Oklahoma Arts Council funding, more Oklahomans have opportunities to create, perform or attend arts and cultural events.

Economists and historians have shown that the development of a thriving arts environment is essential to quality of life, education and economic vitality. Please visit the Oklahoma Arts Council website to learn more about their vision to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry.

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