What is the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition?

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) helps artists realize their potential through education, funding and exposure.

Organized in 1988, OVAC is a non-profit organization that supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma. OVAC promotes public interest in the arts and helps people of all ages understand the visual arts. See information about our history beginning in 1988 here.

We believe that Oklahoma artists are worthy of support and can have vital and fulfilling careers. We also assume every artist’s path is distinctive, a core element of our organizational values. We assist artists in taking action in their own artistic practice however they envision it. This means we provide tools, networks to other artists, funding, connections to audiences and information, and resources advantageous for artists living and working in Oklahoma.

The tools and information are yours to use. We hope you’ll learn about artists, explore the website, read our publications, submit artwork, and take advantage of the face-to-face workshops and meetings.

OVAC programs create a supportive framework for artists’ careers, helping them develop business structures to create and distribute their artwork. OVAC offers critical validation to help artists improve their work, building a network of contemporary curators and writers. Simultaneously, OVAC connects the public to artists, helping them understand the ideas behind the artwork through exhibitions, open studios, an online gallery, and a magazine.

Current facts (as of January 2014): about 1,000 members, over 6,000 Oklahoma visual artists on mailing list, annual budget of about $500,000, 20 Board members, 5 staff members with an office in Oklahoma City.

How is OVAC different from other arts organizations?

OVAC is committed to supporting visual arts statewide, because we consider the cultural landscape and art market to be interdependent—sharing many of the same opportunities and challenges. Artists served include a wide range of ages, educational and economic backgrounds, and ethnicities.
Artists do not have to be a member of OVAC to participate in programs, which are free, inexpensive, or available via scholarship. OVAC’s services help a wide variety of visual artists in both contemporary and traditional media.

OVAC does not have a gallery, except a virtual one. We focus on providing informational resources, funding and training. We work with great gallery and museum partners for targeted exhibitions of Oklahoma artists’ work.

OVAC is the only organization in Oklahoma providing regular project and merit-based funding to individual artists.

OVAC strives to live its mission. OVAC operates as we would wish for artists to run their careers: being creative and taking risks, while working efficiently, collaborating with others, communicating dynamically, and proactively managing our finances.

What responsibility do you have to those you serve? How do you work with artists?

OVAC seeks to help artists in thoughtful and strategic ways. We prioritize artists’ needs in our everyday operations as well as our long term planning. Our organizational values mean:

  • We try to understand your needs as an artist and respect you as an individual.
    Many OVAC staff and board members are artists and/or creative and have worked in the field. We recognize the challenges you face because we have faced them as well.
  • We treat artists fairly and do not judge your artistic work. OVAC does not serve as curator or juror for our programs because our staff is here to serve all Oklahoma artists. We recruit outside experts to jury programs that need selection processes. We welcome artists of all styles and stages. We know there is no one definition of art, and we don’t claim to have one.
  • We want to help you succeed, even if that means assisting you in finding other organizations or resources that better fit your needs. While we are proud of the programs and services we offer, we know we do not serve every artist’s needs. We spend a lot of our time finding and listing other organizations, groups, and markets that may help you more. We understand we are not the only organization an artist needs to thrive.
  • We work continuously to improve our programs, support systems and technology. We welcome your ideas for making things better. We try to be open about our planning processes, leadership and use of our time and funds. We want you involved if possible. Volunteer leaders guide our direction and we highly value mutual exchange.
  • We appreciate your input and do our best to consider it honestly and respond promptly. Please send us your feedback. We depend on you letting us know if you have questions or concerns. Even if we can’t solve every problem, we will make all possible efforts to respond with care.
Do I have to be an artist to join?

No! We have many non-artists and art fans with a wide variety of interests involved as volunteers, supporters, and audiences. Besides coming to our events, exhibitions, and artist talks, please look at our online gallery to learn about almost 500 varied Oklahoma artists, our YouTube channel to see artist profiles and our blog to read more. We hope the stories about artists and their practice will captivate you. We welcome anyone interested in supporting and learning more about the arts.

How do I join?

Membership begins at $40 for individuals and $20 for students. A full list of a membership benefits is available with links to join online.

What are the advantages of membership?

Members stay more informed . They get regular email newsletters chocked full of exhibitions, opportunities to show and listings of classes, an annual Resource Guide that gathers information about exhibition venues in Oklahoma, a subscription to Art Focus Oklahoma magazine and more. Members also help support OVAC, adding to the resources for and voice of Oklahoma artists.

 

Member artists are featured on the online resource www.OVACGallery.org, which is heavily visited by curators, gallerists, and collectors looking for Oklahoma artists. Member artist also receive discounts on workshops and national organization memberships.

Are you really statewide? You seem to support a lot of artists in ______(fill in the city, usually OKC).

Yes, OVAC is committed to supporting artists with programs relevant to artists all over the state. Our exhibitions, grants, workshops, etc. are open to artists living and working anywhere in Oklahoma.  Many programs do take place in the metro areas to allow the maximum participation.

If there are more artists from a certain area accepted in a program, that’s likely because many more submitted. Of course, 33% of Oklahoma’s population is in the OKC metro and 25% in the Tulsa metro.

OVAC purposely has programs and services targeted at rural and smaller communities. For instance, see the geographic location of the last three years of artist project grants we’ve given. OVAC hosts workshops in many communities and offers ARTiculate, a speaker’s bureau, to any community. Also, our publications and online resources are available to audience all over the state

Why do young artists have their own show? Do you mainly support young artists?

We support artists of all ages through programs we hope do not duplicate those offered by other organizations locally and nationally. The Artist Survival Kit workshops and artist project grants serve artists at different career stages. Our magazine and blog consistently feature artists of varied ages.

Many people ask us why the Momentum event has an age limit. Momentum was created specifically to serve young artists, who before this program had few consistent venues for their work. Setting a hard age limit allows us to be intentional about whom the program serves. With other programs, we specify an artistic discipline or career stage (i. e. Fellowships are for more established artists with a history of exhibiting). For many of the artists Momentum is their first time to show off campus and the age limit makes them feel less intimidated to enter. Although Momentum happens twice a year, once in Oklahoma City and once in Tulsa, includes artist awards, and attracts much media attention, OVAC dedicates less than 17% of our resources to the program. OVAC also sees many great opportunities for older emerging artists to show that we do not want to duplicate like the Oklahoma Art Guild’s, the Paseo Arts Association and the Tulsa Artist Coalition’s juried or group shows. Look here for listings of other juried exhibitions in Oklahoma.

How do I get involved or volunteer?

OVAC loves and relies on volunteers! We recruit volunteers for everything from one-time help to ongoing event committee leadership. See this page  for more information.

Is OVAC hiring?

OVAC is a small staff of four full time and one part time personnel. We will post any job listings on our calendar and on the Oklahoma Museums Association job listings (which is a great resource for anyone seeking art or museum-related positions).

Does OVAC engage interns?

Absolutely, we rely heavily on our interns for project support, research and more. Check out this page for basic information and this story with stories from past interns about their experience..

Do you have speakers that can come talk to my school, organization, club?

Sure, we offer ARTiculate, a speaker’s bureau, to any community covering a wide variety of topics from OVAC’s services to the business of art.

Does OVAC offer classes?

OVAC offers business of art workshops (ASK). We do not offer studio or technique classes. See this list for ongoing art classes.

I need HELP showing, pricing, determining the quality of my artwork, etc.

See our Resources page for an overview of some artistic career needs. We strongly recommend attending Artist Survival Kit workshops to hear tips from other artists and reading the blog to learn about successful artists and their business tips.

How do you support video/media artists?

OVAC supports video/media artists as a part of our services. Video and media artists are eligible our exhibitions such as Momentum and Art 365grants, and fellowships. Many of the business skills taught in our Artist Survival Kit workshops are relevant to artists of all disciplines. OVAC strives to gather opportunities for our email newsletters and Resource Guide that are relevant to video/media artists. We also partner with the Oklahoma Film and Music Office when feasible, who provide extensive support for filmmakers.

Who should I contact at OVAC about…?

OVAC staff contacts are on this page, showing our primary work responsibilities. Give us a call at 405.879.2400 or send an email with your questions or ideas.