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  • Cathy O’Connor

Art sector rebounding with some help

The pandemic had a devastating impact on the art sector. According to Americans for the Arts, financial losses to nonprofit arts and culture organizations are an estimated $16.8 billion nationally. Artists and creative workers are some of the most severely affected in Oklahoma City’s workforce. Additionally, local businesses such as restaurants, lodging, retail and parking have been impacted by canceled arts and culture events.

The good news is that Oklahoma City arts and cultural events are returning. Lyric has moved its theatre outdoors, to locations around Oklahoma City. Ballet Oklahoma celebrates its 50th season starting in September and performances have resumed at other performance companies.

Oklahoma City’s visual arts have been helped by publicly funded projects. Matt Goad is putting finishing touches on the public art project at the terminal expansion of Will Rogers World Airport, and the Convention Center opened with the sculpture “Virtual Sky” by world-renowned artist and architect Susan Narduli. Both offer a creative welcome that visitors to Oklahoma City won’t soon forget. There are many more to come. A huge mural, by glass artist Martin Donlin, will wrap the south, east and west walls of the new Convention Center Garage currently under construction. Work starts in June on the mural on the new Homeland store at 36th and Lincoln. The request for proposals for art in Lower Scissortail Park closed last week with 39 submissions to the city’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

MAPS 3 and the city of Oklahoma City’s 1% for Art ordinance, adopted by the City Council in 2009, have helped to increase the number of public art projects in our city, a purposeful investment in ourselves. Arts are economic catalysts. They have the ability to improve and accelerate economic recovery. According to a study by Indiana University, growth in arts employment has a positive and causal effect on overall employment.

Supporting arts does more than boost the economy. It adds meaning to our public spaces, reflects the culture of Oklahoma City and reveals our unique character. Some art experiences cause you to think or consider a different perspective.

You can help our local arts industry by purchasing tickets for local theatre, dance, music or museums. Attend Allied Arts’ signature fundraiser OPUS on June 18 and be entertained by local and national performing artists.


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