A version of this story appears on the cover of Monday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. To read more about tonight’s Opening Night festivities in downtown Oklahoma City, click here.
By the time the clock strikes midnight to launch us into 2013, it’s a safe bet that many Oklahomans will be resolving to make themselves better in the New Year.
After all, New Year’s resolutions are as much a part of the holidays as pumpkin pie (hence the ever-popular weight-loss declarations), lavish gifts (and the perennial vow to save and spend more wisely) and family gatherings (which may end with your adopting the overarching aim of “becoming a better person”).
If you’re looking to become more cultured in 2013, the key is exposure. Fortunately, free and low-cost opportunities to experience the visual, performing and musical arts are booming in Oklahoma City.
“You’ve got Lyric Theatre. You’ve got one of the finest symphonies anywhere around that you can go see amazing … performances all year round. Shakespeare in the Park at the Myriad Gardens is absolutely stunning. We really have a lot of performance opportunities,” said Peter Dolese, executive director of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City.
“Then there’s the First Friday (Gallery Walk) in the Paseo and the second Fridays in the Plaza District. You know, there’s four or five art openings every single weekend all year round it seems like.”
Aspiring art fans can get started on their quest to cultivate their cultural side before next year even starts, with the Opening Night New Year’s Eve festivities in downtown. The 27th annual celebration features nine venues staging more than 40 performances, ranging from classical piano and Latin American dance to improv theater and American Indian flute.
All-inclusive Opening Night wristbands are $8 in advance or $10 at the event. For more information, go to www.artscouncilokc.com.
But the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s mission to connect the community with the arts continues year round. Its free Festival of the Arts is a local rite of spring.
“We’ve got four stages from 11 in the morning ‘til 9 o’clock at night for six days, so there’s upwards of a couple of hundred performances,” Dolese said. “We have 144 artists in the booths, an additional probably 50 artists in the sculpture park.” … There’s a huge children’s activity tent where in the neighborhood of around 5,000 kids roll through there every year.”
In the summer, the Twilight Concert Series offers free Sunday night concerts, featuring performers making music in an array of genres The shows draw 500 to 700 people to the Great Lawn at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
In August, the council will partner for the first time with the Oklahoma History Center for its annual Storytelling Festival.
“It’s workshops and performances. There will be a lot of workshops on the art of storytelling, using it as a communication tool … and how to collect family stories,” Dolese said.
In between, the nonprofit organization coordinates Art Moves, which brings 255 free lunchtime art programs to 14 different downtown venues over the course of the year.
“That’s happening downtown every day of the week, Monday through Friday at noon … 51 weeks a year,” Dolese said. “It’s always fun and always free.”
The program features visual arts demonstrations, live music and dance performances.
“The art demonstrations are hugely successful, actually, because people are working on their art, they’re accessible, people (in the audience) can walk up and ask them questions,” he said. “It’s very interactive.”
For residents who want to actually try their hand at creating art, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and City Arts Center are among the organizations that offer adult classes from drawing and painting to weaving and glassblowing. Costs range from $25 to $330.
“Oklahoma City is becoming a creative community,” Dolese said.
In Norman, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is celebrating a free new opportunity to share its fine permanent collection, special exhibits and educational activities.
Last month, the University of Oklahoma museum announced it is now offering free admission every day thanks to a new annual $60,000 gift from the OU Athletics Department. The museum is open Tuesdays-Sundays.
“We are very excited and grateful for this new chapter in the museum’s history and hope you will help us celebrate with a visit to the museum soon,” Director Ghislain d’ Humières said in an email.