Oklahoma Arts Council to host Enid listening session Thursday

A mural by Kelly and Ty Tompkins decorates the side of Big Country Meat Market. Oklahoma Arts Council will hold a public listening session on art’s impact in the community Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Arts Council will host a public listening session on the impact of art in the community, 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday at Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, 200 E. Maple.

The public meeting is one of three Cornerstone Conversations sessions scheduled in Northwest Oklahoma to gather public input on the arts and grant-funded art projects. Two previous sessions were in Guymon and Woodward.

According to an Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) press release, OAC is “encouraging participation by any Oklahoman who has ideas for using the arts to strengthen communities and schools.”

The Cornerstone Conversations tour is part of OAC’s efforts to “learn how the arts can meet needs across the state,” and will inform the agency’s five-year strategic plan, according to the press release.

“Our purpose in going out and spending time with people is to make sure we hear from Oklahomans representing all communities,” OAC Executive Director Amber Sharples said. “Designed as an inclusive process, these conversations will be the cornerstone of a plan for leveraging the arts to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state.”

Visit Enid Director Marcy Jarrett said OAC “has a big impact in Enid because of the attractions and events that receive grant funds.

“Money provided by grants through the Oklahoma Arts Council can be doubled or tripled, or more, through matching in the community,” Jarrett said. “That is important to several places that Enid residents hold dear, where we enjoy performances, arts shows and activities.”

According to figures provided by OAC, almost $69,000 in OAC grants funds were awarded in Enid in fiscal year 2018, including grants to Enid Public Schools, Enid Symphony Association, Gaslight Theatre, Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, Pleasant Vale Elementary School and Enid Public Library.

Jarrett said supporting the arts with those kind of funds “broadens the education of our residents and future residents, and it supports Enid’s desire to grow in size, but also to grow in knowledge and experience.

“Art is a critical quality of life issue,” Jarrett said, “because it’s both for residents and future residents — for those we want to move here and grow our community, and for those who live here now.”

Supporting the arts also pays off financially, according to a 2017 study by the nonprofit group Oklahomans for the Arts, which found arts and cultural organizations and their audiences drive $872.8 million in economic impact and support 29,165 jobs in Oklahoma each year.

The Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 400 grants to nearly 225 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol, according to a press release.

Thursday’s Cornerstone Conversations session will include individual exercises and small group discussion in addition to the opportunity to provide written feedback. Sessions will close with a 30-minute networking break that will include light refreshments.

Seating for each session may be limited. There is no cost to attend, but reservations are requested for planning purposes.

To reserve a seat, contact Heidi Costello at heidi.costello@arts.ok.gov or (405) 521-2040. Information about Cornerstone Conversations is available at arts.ok.gov/cornerstone.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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