Group launches statewide advocacy for arts, culture
Tolbert, Koch and Frazier founding members of new nonprofit
OKLAHOMA CITY Media Availability Session
1:30-3 p.m., Tuesday, May 17,
Oklahoma City Ballet, 7421 N. Classen Boulevard, OKC
TULSA Media Availability Session
1:30 – 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 17,
Harwelden Masion, Tulsa Arts & Humanities Council, 2210 S. Main, Tulsa
May 16, 2011 -- -- Three prominent Oklahoma arts leaders have initiated the first nonprofit to formally advocate for public funding for arts, culture and arts education in Oklahoma. Long-time Oklahoma City businessman Jim Tolbert will lead Oklahomans for the Arts flanked by Oklahoma City public relations executive Kym Koch Thompson, Koch Communications, and Tulsa arts advocate and volunteer Linda Frazier.
According to Tolbert, Oklahoma is only one of seven states that do not have a formal advocacy group. Thirty-six states including Texas, Kansas Nebraska, Louisiana and Mississippi have bona fide arts advocacy organizations. States with no formally organized effort include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, New Mexico and North Dakota.
In a year that has seen unprecedented cuts nationwide to state arts and arts education funding the timing is not accidental.
Arts and culture are major components of any thriving economic center,” said Tolbert. “We have demonstrated for years how paramount both are to economic development. They are keys to attracting and maintaining a diverse and intelligent workforce, both of which are needed for Oklahoma to compete vigorously in the global marketplace.”
Thompson echoes his sentiment. “The arts are an economic engine,” she said. “They drive more than 4,600 businesses and more than 22,000 jobs in Oklahoma. Investment in this sector is absolutely fundamental to the state’s continued prosperity.”
Currently, the Oklahoma Arts Council, a state agency with an annual appropriation of $4 million, grants nearly 90 percent of its funds to communities in 53 counties across the state. According to Suzanne Tate, the agency’s Executive Director, OAC provides critical support to both rural and urban arts organizations. She is excited about the startup of Oklahoma’s first arts advocacy group.
“I am so excited to see this effort take shape,” said Tate. “Arts organizations and artists are a component of any city or town’s business community. The Oklahoma Arts Council stimulates that arts economy with a small investment and it reaps a large return on investment.
“It will be unprecedented to have this formalized, advocacy support.”
The group has launched a variety of social networking accounts, however, only the blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts are currently populated with content. They include:
Oklahomans for the Arts on TWITTER (@OK4theArts)
Search groups for Oklahomans for the Arts
Tolbert, Koch and Frazier encourage arts supporters to join what will eventually become the most robust social network for the arts in Oklahoma.
Jennifer James, an Oklahoma City-based PR practitioner and registered lobbyist will coordinate the group’s efforts. A full roll-out will occur at the Oklahoma Arts Conference October 26-27, Tulsa.
“I love the arts and I have a keen interest in the legislative process,” said James. “I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to make a difference in Oklahoma in this way.”