The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust announced today that it has received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single grant ever awarded to an Oklahoma organization.
The grant falls under the category "American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius" in the discipline "Presenting" to acquaint Americans with the best of the nation's cultural and artistic heritage.
The $40,000 will be divided between the Tulsa PAC Trust, Gilcrease Museum and the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers for a collaborative project called "Oklahoma Landscapes: A Plains State of Mind."
The PAC Trust, in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, will use the grant to present an eight-performance run of Oklahoma native Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County, from Jan 26-31, 2020. GKFF will underwrite the presentation up to $250,000 and assist with marketing, said Stanton Doyle, GKFF senior officer for arts and culture.
The title of the entire program, "Oklahoma Landscapes: A Plains State of Mind" is borrowed from a line in Letts' play and speaks to Oklahoma's unique geographic location.
Billie Letts, award-winning Oklahoma author and mother to Tracy Letts, described her son's play, saying it "reveals old secrets and opens old wounds."
"He asked me if it bothered me that he more or less told all of my family's secrets," Billie Letts said. "I told him it bothered me a little bit, but he's still in the family will."
Gilcrease Museum will present an exhibition of and lecture featuring works "strongly connected to Oklahoma," evocative of the "uniqueness of our state's landscape and heritage."
The exact content of the exhibit and lecture is yet to be determined, but it will likely be presented November of this year to March 2010.
The OCPW will use its portion of the funds to present "Oklahoma Landscapes: A Literary Tableau" on January 21, 2010 at 7pm in the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa auditorium. The event will feature readings by some of Oklahoma's most noted authors, including N. Scott Momaday, Joyce Carol Thomas, Billie Letts, Michael Wallis and Rilla Askew.
In addition, the Center will kick off a reading campaign, marketed specifically to Oklahoma English teachers.
"Writers play an important role in Oklahoma landscapes," said Teresa Miller, OCPW executive director.
She said John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath continues to be the literary definition of Oklahoma, but contemporary Oklahoma authors are rewriting that definition.
PAC Trust Program Director Shirley Elliott said the NEA grant will have at least a $5 million economic impact on the city and through the attendance of its programs, will reach roughly 600,000 people.
Susan Neal, director of community development and education initiatives for the City of Tulsa, said the hallmark of a community is its arts endeavor, and that Tulsa's recognition through this grant signals to the rest of the country its major contributions to the arts world.
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