News & Community

A letter from the president

September 06, 2016

Dear Friends of OAI,

As many of you know, this has been a difficult year for public education in Oklahoma. Facing a $1.3 billion state budget shortfall, the Oklahoma State Department of Education was forced to make more than $38 million in cuts to its activity fund, drastically reducing its investment in many valuable programs while eliminating funding for others entirely.

As a result of these cuts, the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s funding to the Oklahoma Arts Institute during the upcoming 2016-2017 fiscal year has been reduced by 71 percent—from $350,000 to $100,000. We will also feel the impact of a cut in state funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council, which will result in an additional $18,000 reduction in funding to OAI.

A cut of this magnitude would be devastating to an organization without our diverse network of support. Fortunately, OAI’s public-private partnership offers a significant degree of protection during times of economic uncertainty. We have weathered the ups and downs of the state economy for 40 years through the help of charitable foundations, corporations and other private donors who, along with the State of Oklahoma, help us fulfill our mission to provide a world-class arts education experience to the state’s most talented artists and dedicated educators. 

In spite of this loss, we are committed to preserving the quality of our programs. OAI matches state dollars two-to-one with private donations, and the progress we have made with our ongoing 40th Anniversary Comprehensive Campaign is a testament to the value of our private fundraising efforts, which will help us through this crisis and bring stability and improvements to our programs.

On that note, plans are currently coming together for a year-end 40th Anniversary luncheon on December 6, 2016, at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. The event will include appearances from some of the Institute’s most accomplished alums, who will be inducted into our inaugural OAI Alumni Hall of Fame. The luncheon will serve as a fundraiser and a testament to our 40 years of exceptional service to the young artists of Oklahoma, as told by those who have used their experiences at Quartz Mountain to launch remarkable careers in the arts. Mark your calendars for this special event!

In the meantime, please know that OAI will not sacrifice our commitment to changing lives through the arts, and there is no doubt that the OAI Alumni Hall of Fame will continue to grow as we reach more and more of our state’s most gifted artists. We count the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma Arts Council as strong partners in our mission, and we are more thankful than ever for the contributions of alumni, parents and arts advocates who have helped make the Oklahoma Arts Institute a true state treasure for 40 years and counting.

Thanks to each of you for your support of OAI!


Julie Cohen
President & CEO