July 5, 2023
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Recovery Fund
The State of Oklahoma has enacted a landmark $10 million investment in the arts and cultural sector. H.B. 2941 appropriates American Rescue Plan Act funds to create a new Statewide Recovery Special Account that will be used by the Oklahoma Arts Council to fortify local economies through the arts and rebuild a stronger and more vibrant statewide arts sector.
A coalition of arts and community organizations led by the Oklahoma Arts Council in partnership with Allied Arts OKC and Arts Alliance Tulsa advanced the case for support. The plan was approved by the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding and passed both the house (91-7) and senate (36-9) before being sent to the governor as part of a package of recovery bills that also included critical health care and infrastructure investments.
Oklahoma’s arts recovery rationale cites the role that the creative economy plays within comprehensive regional economic development strategies, both as an industry in its own right and as a catalyst with a positive influence on other sectors. Some distinctive aspects of the plan to deploy the $10 million include:
- 50% of the grant funds will be prioritized for rural and economically distressed counties. The other half of funds will be divided between the state’s two largest population centers, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
- In addition to supporting arts and cultural nonprofits, other organizations that serve as significant community hubs for arts and culture will be eligible. This may include historical societies, tribal nations and civic organizations that supply ongoing cultural programming and arts education services.
- Priority activities will include a blend of near-term operational stabilization efforts and actions designed to build a strong and sustainable creative sector for the future. Examples of sustainability focused activities include expansion of business planning practices; adoption of technologies that can improve distance education, virtual programming and access for audiences with disabilities; and workforce development and arts education programs.
- A maximum of 2% of the appropriated funds may be used to administer the recovery initiative.
Funding guidelines are currently under development. In addition to bolstering the arts sector, it is anticipated that the residual return on investment of the arts recovery fund will positively impact many businesses across the state, as arts activity boosts revenues for restaurants, vacation destinations, hotels, hospitality providers and retail. To learn more about the recovery plan, contact Oklahoma Arts Council Director of Marketing and Communications Joel Gavin.
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