February 04

Action Alert: Governor’s Budget Calls for Tourism to Takeover Oklahoma Arts Council

phoneYesterday, Governor Mary Fallin released her budget proposal for the State of Oklahoma during her annual State of the State address. It calls for the consolidation of the Oklahoma Arts Council with the Oklahoma Department of Tourism. The Oklahoma Historical Society and three state commissions were also included in the proposal.

While the budget is just a proposal right now, it still represents a significant threat to the Oklahoma Arts Council and public funding for the arts. In the coming weeks, state legislators will negotiate the terms of the budget. Before the end of May, the House of Representatives will draft a bill outlining each state agency’s appropriations. That bill must be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor.

In summary, arts advocates have a long way to go and a steep hill to climb. The BOARD of DIRECTORS of Oklahomans for the Arts encourages advocates to call the governor’s office today and advocate for the Oklahoma Arts Council as an independent state agency.

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin
Oklahoma State Capitol 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212 Oklahoma City, OK 73105
(405) 521-2342

Here are some talking points outlining the consequences of consolidation.

Funding Cuts

Consolidation will result in significant cuts in grants, services and staff. What is at risk is $4 million in public funding for the arts via the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Loss of Federal and Regional Financial Support

Consolidation would result in a loss of more than $1.5 million from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Integrity of the Grant Making Process

The Oklahoma Arts Council has developed a national reputation for the objectivity and integrity of it peer reviewed grant making process. As part of a larger agency without an independent board this process would be vulnerable to political influence.

Future Administrative Commitment

While the current Secretary of Tourism has a strong devotion to the mission of OAC, there can be no assurance that a successor will possess these virtues.

Update on HB2850

Consolidation is not the only challenge the Oklahoma Arts Council faces this legislative session. In our last action alert, we told you about HB2850 to eliminate all funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council by July 1, 2017. This bill is still a significant threat to OAC. Once we know which committee this bill has been assigned to, we will follow up with you on another action alert. In the meantime, please contact your legislators about how public funding for the arts helps your community. Click here to identify your state representatives and state senators.

UPDATE: We learned at 4 p.m. today, that HB 2850 has been assigned to the Budget and Appropriations Subcommittee. We will issue a new action alert tomorrow.


Oklahomans for the Arts needs your support! Click here to join or renew your membership now.

OFTA Board of Directors

James R. Tolbert III, Chair (Oklahoma City); Governor Bill Anoatubby (Chickasaw Nation); Billie Barnett (Tulsa); Joy Reed Belt (Oklahoma City) Bill Cameron (Oklahoma City); Ryan Cunningham (Oklahoma City); Charlie Daniels (Bartlesville); Nance Diamond (Shawnee); C. Kendric Fergeson (Altus); Linda Edmondson (Oklahoma City); Linda Frazier (Tulsa); Ann Graves (Tulsa); Will Jones (Deer Creek); Michael E. Joseph (Oklahoma City); P. Vincent LoVoi (Tulsa); Melvin Moran (Seminole); Desmond Mason (Oklahoma City); Roxana Lorton (Tulsa); Larry Nichols (Oklahoma City); Bob Ross (Oklahoma City); Suzanne Tate (Oklahoma City); William Von Glahn (Tulsa); Dr. Peggy Wisdom (Alva).