As Oklahoma’s only United Arts Fund, Allied Arts provides critical resources and support to 26 leading arts organizations in central Oklahoma. Please explore our site to learn more about our organization, the importance of the arts and how you can make a difference.
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Allied Arts supports 26 different arts organizations that we call our ‘member agencies’. They each have rich histories, exciting programs, diverse purposes and compelling missions. We wanted to make sure that everyone was given the chance to hear their stories and see the important work they are doing for the arts in central Oklahoma. Each month, we showcase a couple of our member agencies through a “Member Agency Spotlight” blog entry.
Today, we would like to introduce you to Ambassadors’ Concert Choir.
"The group of people that come together weekly as the Ambassadors' Concert Choir has become family to each other. They are kind, compassionate, caring; all of the wonderful things a person needs to feel loved and appreciated. Being able to sing and make music with these people gives you a wonderful, satisfying musical experience each week!”
- Dr. Sandra D. Thompson
The Ambassadors' Concert Choir's mission is to provide the opportunity for serious study and performance of choral music of all genres, to encourage the musical development of public school students, and to promote workshops to strengthen the skills of adult musicians.
Ambassadors’ Concert Choir was started in the fall of 1979 with their first concert on Christmas Eve. The founder, Dr. Kenneth E. Kilgore, and other vocalists at St. John Baptist Church wanted to study other music in addition to Gospel.
The choir and its founder, Dr. Kenneth E. Kilgore, were inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1992.
Diversity & Harmony
The choir is a combination of singers of all races, creeds and colors who unite to make joyful, uplifting music. They leave debates, politics and other issues that separate people and join forces to create harmony.
“Following a concert, it is wonderful to hear from audience members that they were lifted and restored as a result of the music we provide.”
-Dr. Sandra D.Thompson
Best/most rewarding experience for your organization
The Ambassadors’ Concert Choir has had the opportunity to provide comforting music to many people. During the time of the Murrah Building bombing, they sang several concerts for the survivors and their families. They were then asked to perform for the opening of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum with President Bill Clinton in attendance. Recently, the choir was given the opportunity to sing for the victims and survivors of the Moore tornadoes. In addition to these momentous occasions, The Ambassadors’ Concert Choir has performed at the inauguration of every Oklahoma Governor since David Walters’ inauguration in 1991.
Ambassador’s Concert Choir performing at “A History of Gospel Music” on November 7, 2013.
“A History of Gospel Music”
This past November, the Ambassadors’ Concert Choir performed at the Oklahoma History Center in a production titled “A History of Gospel Music”. They used narrators to highlight Gospel’s development from slave chants, shouts and work songs through the present. The program featured hymns, spirituals and (of course) gospel music. The reviews following the concert said that the Ambassador’s Concert Choir are bringing “a fresh fire to Oklahoma City’s music scene” and “are rekindling OKC’s musical appetite for exciting, innovative and imaginative programming”. People left the event saying that they felt educated, entertained and blessed! It was definitely a successful production for all involved.
Allied Arts supports 26 different arts organizations that we call our ‘member agencies’. They each have rich histories, exciting programs, diverse purposes and compelling missions. We wanted to make sure that everyone was given the chance to hear their stories and see the important work they are doing for the arts in Central Oklahoma. Each month, we will showcase a couple of our member agencies through a “Member Agency Spotlight” blog entry.Today, we would like to introduce you to the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.
“There are lots of things to love about this organization” said Development Coordinator, Liz Blood. “The people who run it are salt of the earth, always with their feelers out for new ideas, partnerships and opportunities to bring more and better art to the community. Community isn’t just a word thrown around here, either. The people I work with and the volunteers we work with cultivate community at the Arts Council, as well as out in the city.”
What is the Arts Council of OKC
The Arts Council of Oklahoma City began in 1967 with Festival of the Arts and the mission of bringing the arts and community together. And for the past 46 years, they’ve done just that. They’ve grown to present some of the community's favorite events and performances, including Festival of the Arts, held each April; Opening Night, an annual, family-oriented New Year’s Eve performing arts celebration; Oklahoma City Storytelling Festival, held each August; Out of the Box street performer program held year-round in downtown OKC and Bricktown; Art Moves daily art program, held year-round at noontime during the business week in downtown OKC; and the Sunday Twilight Concert Series, presented by Devon, a free concert series held all summer.
Community Arts Program (CAP)
One of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s programs that you might not be quite as familiar with is the Community Arts Program (CAP). They began CAP in the 1990s as a way to focus on bringing arts education, therapy and service learning to under-served populations who are not offered arts opportunities; such as at-risk youth, individuals with developmental disabilities and the elderly. These events are either free or low-cost, making them accessible to a wide demographic of citizens and visitors across the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
In the past year, Arts Council of OKC has begun to really focus on the Community Arts Program. Last fall, they expanded to six new sites, bringing this arts outreach program to a total of 16 different community organizations. As they continue through the year, they are looking for new sites to partner with and who else they might be able to serve. CAP was recently selected by the Oklahoma Afterschool Network (OKAN) as a pilot program for implementing its high-quality after-school programming standards. OKAN wanted a program that incorporated arts education into after school time, and they chose CAP as their pilot program, an example to which other programs could then look.
At-risk youth are served in the following CAP initiatives: Arts After School, Neighborhood Arts and Play in the Park. In the Arts After School program, 96.77% of the students receive free or reduced lunch and 32.8% are English language learners. Therapeutic Arts serves mostly adults, though it does serve some children, with physical and cognitive disabilities, including Down Syndrome, autism, physical deformities, spina bifida and dementia. As a whole, CAP serves nearly 15,000 of these individuals each year.
The Importance of Volunteering
In order to make all of these great programs possible, Arts Council of OKC has a huge volunteer base helping them reach 1 million people in our community every year. And they’re always looking for new volunteers! In fact, they recently launched their Artisans group, which is a young professional group that requires volunteer hours instead of dues. Anyone interested in joining must be between the ages of 21 and 40. There will be really fun perks throughout the year for membership, including a special fireworks how-to around the time of Opening Night. Young professionals can sign up here: www.artscouncilokc.com/artisans.
Allied Arts has the privilege of working alongside an outstanding group of men and women that serve on our board and volunteer with our organization. They are a diverse collection of community leaders, talented artists and generous philanthropists. We are taking the time each month to introduce one of them to you.
This month’s Board Member Spotlight is on Ms. Mary Blankenship Pointer.
Mary Blankenship Pointer
Senior Vice President, UMB Bank
When did you join the Allied Arts Board?
Allied Arts invited me to join the prestigious board four years ago.
What drew you to Allied Arts?
Allied Arts provides vital support to art agencies throughout Oklahoma City and the work we are able to do impacts every facet of the community.
What has been the most rewarding Board experience for you so far?
The most rewarding part of being a board member is being part of the progress and growth the arts have experienced in Oklahoma City. Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world to see and experience the impact of art, and my dream is that one day people will travel from around the world to our city for that same purpose. Every day and in every way we support the arts in our community, we are getting closer and closer to accomplishing that goal.
Do you have any hidden (or public) art talents or hobbies?
I am an avid art collector.
How have the arts had an impact on you or your community?
The arts teach you to think in a more abstract, “what if” manner that changes the way you view the world and your surroundings. Here in Oklahoma City, the arts have not only helped retain our brightest young professionals, but they have helped us recruit talented individuals from across the country. In addition, there is an inherent correlation between a vibrant arts community and a strong local economy. As a financial professional in the banking industry, I see this relationship on a daily basis and believe that as we continue to expand our artistic endeavors we will continue to grow our city’s economy and quality of life.
Tell us about a favorite memory that includes the arts.
When I was 5 years old, I remember being terrified to start kindergarten. I walked into the classroom, not knowing anyone, and saw a painting easel in the corner, which made me forget my fears and look forward to painting. That was my first memory or connection with art, and I have loved it ever since. I still get that same excitement when I see a painting I love, watch the ballet or go to the symphony.
What is a goal that you hope to achieve through your Allied Arts involvement?
Ultimately, my goal is to cover our city with public art, similar to what has been accomplished with the arts in Aspen, Colorado. I love the idea that we could be surrounded by art as we walk down the street, through the park or into a building.
Why do you support the arts?
Art is everywhere, and it touches everything in our lives. By having the opportunity to support arts in our schools and our communities, I believe we are creating a world that is full of endless imagination and possibilities. And when I think that Allied Arts has raised and contributed more than $50 million to advance arts and culture in central Oklahoma, I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude and servitude to keep that giving spirit alive.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I recently received a phone call from The Oklahoma Arts Council informing me that I will be receiving the Governor’s Arts Award in November. I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award, which to me is better than winning the lottery! Receiving recognition like this further solidifies my commitment to the arts and to creating a vibrant community with endless cultural and artistic opportunities.
Congratulations, Ms. Blankenship Pointer, on the Governor’s Arts Award! You exemplify true commitment to the arts and are completely deserving of this recognition. We are proud to support you and are grateful for everything you do for Allied Arts.