August 28, 2012

Meet OFTA's New Advocacy Captain: Erin Smith

Erin Smith | Advocacy Captain Canadian, Cleveland, Logan and Oklahoma Counties.
Oklahomans for the Arts is pleased to announce Erin Smith as advocacy captain for Region 1, which includes Canadian, Cleveland, Logan and Oklahoma Counties. Erin serves as the curator for the Moore-Lindsay House Historic Museum in Norman, Oklahoma. She has a degree in fine art from Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, and a Master's degree in liberal studies, museum studies and art history from the University of Oklahoma. She is also an accomplished photographer and fulfilled an impressive internship with the Jacobson House Native Art Center.

Smith joins Shannon Bever, Dr. Sarah Chan and Britt Greenwood already serving as advocacy captains.

Shannon serves as librarian of the Davis Public Library, Davis Oklahoma. She represents Region 10, which includes Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Murray, Pontotoc Counties.

Sarah, a concert pianist and professor of music, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva, serves Region 9, which includes Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Texas, Woods, Woodward Counties.

Britt, an artist and prominent Tulsa arts blogger at Tulsa Art Spot, serves Region 6, which includes Creek, Osage, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner Counties.

When Oklahomans for the Arts launched its advocacy captain program last January -- thanks to a grant from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund - we knew were in for an unpredictable adventure. Would we find the right volunteers to serve in this capacity? Would they understand the intersection of arts and government? Who would apply -- or rather -- would anyone apply at all? And ultimately, would this program succeed?

The executives with the Kirkpatrick Family Fund knew we had our work cut out for us. But, they also believed in this project. That meant a lot to us as we began an evergreen recruitment process. We thought we  might be able to sprint to the finish line and fill all 11 volunteer positions quickly, but we also thought pushing too hard would result in filling in blanks, but not accomplishing goals. 

We think the advocacy captain program will take (gasp) five years to nurture and grow into something amazing: a formidable grassroots effort that will significantly impact the way Oklahomans view public funding for the arts. This will be accomplished in a number of ways, but primarily by helping the captains grow their own professional networks and assisting them with grassroots advocacy through training and ongoing communication.

We feel very, very lucky to have such outstanding individuals serving OFTA in this capacity. They are more than volunteers, they are friends and talented advocates. I hope one day we will all be able to attend National Arts Advocacy Day together in Washington D.C., and begin advocating more at the federal level for arts funding. For now, we have our work cut out for us in terms of increasing support for public funding for the arts at the state level.

If you are interested in beginning a discussion about serving as an advocacy captain for OFTA, click here for more information and then send us an email