ActivePaper Archive Celebrating arts community - Oklahoman, 3/25/2006

Celebrating arts community

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Try, if you can, to imagine Oklahoma without the arts. Imagine your community with no museums, no arts festivals, no school arts programs, no performing arts.

Fortunately, you have to use your imagination, because Betty Price

our state has a vibrant arts community, and the arts are increasingly recognized as critical to not only quality of life, but community development as well.

The importance of the arts to community development will be explored at the Leadership Education and Arts Development conference in Oklahoma City on April 5 and Tulsa on April 6. LEAD is a signature program of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

The Oklahoma Arts Council has worked 40 years to sustain Oklahoma’s vibrant nonprofit arts industry, playing a pivotal role in fostering the arts across the state.

LEAD began as an arts management conference, offering speakers and training sessions geared toward the leaders of arts organizations. But a funny thing happened — interest began to spread beyond the arts community. Elected officials and business leaders began to take notice of the importance of the arts to a healthy community and a healthy state.

Today LEAD is a conference that brings together board members and staff members of nonprofits, arts and otherwise, from throughout the state. Arts management is still a key component of the conference, but the bigger picture, that of the arts and nonprofit communities being a driving force in individual communities and the state, has come into sharp focus at LEAD.

Jack Schultz, author of Boomtown USA, is the keynote speaker for LEAD. As Ernst and Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year, Schultz’s presentation will be of interest to business leaders as well as arts and nonprofit leaders.

The Oklahoma Arts Council supports LEAD and its goals, because we believe a thriving arts environment is essential to quality of life, education and economic vitality for all Oklahomans. As the official state agency for the support and development of the arts, the council receives appropriations from the state Legislature and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

These funds supported more than 1,100 grants to 154 communities around the state just last year. Summer arts programs in Woodward and Chickasha, the Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum’s exhibit by Thomas Moran or the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Chihuly exhibit are just a few of the projects the council has helped.

Whether Oklahomans enjoyed OK Mozart in Bartlesville, the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City, the International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie or the Mexican Folkloric Dance Conference in Guymon, the Oklahoma Arts Council played a part. In fact, the involvement of the council makes a life-changing impact on countless rural schools with artists in residence, youth in alternative education classes and seniors creating art in assisted living centers.

Oklahoma has, at its heart, a vibrant, thriving arts community. It’s a heart that beats loud enough for everyone to hear.

Price is executive director of the Oklahoma Arts

Council. Information on LEAD is available at

www.centerfornonprofits.us.