Create art more: Oklahoma Arts Council hosts community conversation

Drew Butler
Community members gathered at the Goddard Center Tuesday evening for a Cornerstone Conversation hosted by the Oklahoma Arts Council to discuss ways to foster greater interest in the arts.

Community members gathered together Tuesday evening at The Goddard Center to take part in a community conversation hosted by the Oklahoma Arts Council. The event was run in a similar fashion to the Ardmore Vision 2025 meeting held last year but with a specific focus on the arts.

Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Arts Council Chandra Boyd said the purpose of the evening was to get the public involved in creating the organization’s five year plan to present to the governor and the legislature. The meeting in Ardmore is one of many “Cornerstone Conversations” that will be taking place all across the state.

“We really wanted our plan to be staff led but constituent driven,” Boyd said. “Cornerstone Conversations was bred through some of our strategic planning processes. Think of “cornerstone” as in the foundational block of a building and think about how these meetings we’re having as a community are really building the foundation for the arts and culture in Oklahoma.”

Executive Director Amber Sharples also spoke to the crowd.

“Your presence here means the world to us, and what we want to hear from you is how we can serve you better because we’re public servants and we’re here to give back,” Sharples said. “Please give us your candid feedback on how we can shape our agency not only for the next five years but really for the next decade as well.”

Participants were then given the question “in what ways can you and the Oklahoma Arts Council encourage greater participation in cultural activities in your community?” Then small groups came up with potential answers to the question. The answers eventually fell into one of three broad categories: arts as bridges, programming and outreach, and Fuel which dealt with money and other resources.

Some of the suggestions in the arts as bridges categories included: reaching out to groups not currently involved in the arts, identifying economic barriers, and taking art to the people. Suggestions in the programming and outreach categories included: a varsity art team, inclusive arts programming and collaboration with other nonprofits. Suggestions in the Fuel category included ways to help fund both artistic projects and the artists themselves.