Networking, marketing could help Oklahoma City's artists stand out, study suggests

Oklahoma City has more than its fair share of artists, and could help them do better for themselves and the city with increased efforts on networking and marketing, a recent study suggests.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: September 24, 2012
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Tapping underdeveloped resource potential has helped fuel the second wind to Oklahoma City's continued renaissance. But even as local artists and a maturing arts scene have added character, a recent study suggests the number and quality of those artists are another plentiful but underdeveloped resource that could benefit from more networking and marketing.

The Cultural Development Corporation of Oklahoma, a nonprofit, commissioned a study by Minnesota-based Creative Community Builders to help develop a strategy to support Oklahoma City's artists. The findings were presented to the city Arts Commission at its meeting last week.

The study found Oklahoma City has an advantage it can exploit in a burgeoning creative class, more than a quarter of which is composed of self-employed workers. The challenge is to capitalize by finding a way to help them network with each other and market their skills and products.

“We found a real diversity of artists, and self-employed artists at a much higher rate than the rest of the country,” said Julia Kirt, the development corporation's president and director of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. “But we're pretty fragmented and not coordinated between art forms.”

Arts investment

Oklahoma City has made increasing investments in money and time to better the local arts community as part of efforts to improve quality of life. The development corporation and city have partnered to develop a cultural plan for the city, and an Oklahoma City ordinance requires one percent of construction budgets to be spent on public art.

MAPS projects and other public and private investment efforts have led to a number of arts districts, museums, exhibitions and programs in the metro.