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Oklahoma Arts Companies Receive Stimulus Funds

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"It's not just us. Opera companies around the country I'd say are having a somewhat tougher time selling tickets and a somewhat more tough time raising funds," said Tulsa Opera’s Executive Director, John Peter Jeffries. "It's not just us. Opera companies around the country I'd say are having a somewhat tougher time selling tickets and a somewhat more tough time raising funds," said Tulsa Opera’s Executive Director, John Peter Jeffries.
Because of the recession, the Tulsa Opera has had to cut three full time positions. Plus, they're no longer able to rehearse where they actually perform, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Because of the recession, the Tulsa Opera has had to cut three full time positions. Plus, they're no longer able to rehearse where they actually perform, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
But there is hope. Contributions look like they may soon pick up. Plus, the National Endowment for the Arts received $50 million in stimulus to preserve jobs in the arts. But there is hope. Contributions look like they may soon pick up. Plus, the National Endowment for the Arts received $50 million in stimulus to preserve jobs in the arts.
"The thing is you can't let the artistic quality lapse because of money. You have to find a way to save the money somewhere. But the product should never suffer," said Kostis Protopapas, Tulsa Opera’s Artistic Director. "The thing is you can't let the artistic quality lapse because of money. You have to find a way to save the money somewhere. But the product should never suffer," said Kostis Protopapas, Tulsa Opera’s Artistic Director.

By Jennifer Loren, The Oklahoma Impact Team

TULSA -- To be or not to be, for many Oklahoma arts companies, that question couldn't be more relevant. The recession has taken its toll.

Ballet Oklahoma, for example, considered merging with the Tulsa Ballet after falling on hard times in 2008, and the Tulsa Opera is in serious debt.

"It's not just us. Opera companies around the country I'd say are having a somewhat tougher time selling tickets and a somewhat more tough time raising funds," said Tulsa Opera’s Executive Director, John Peter Jeffries.

Because of the recession, the Tulsa Opera has had to cut three full time positions. Plus, they're no longer able to rehearse where they actually perform, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

But there is hope. Contributions look like they may soon pick up. Plus, the National Endowment for the Arts received $50 million in stimulus to preserve jobs in the arts. The NEA, so far, awarded two arts organizations with money. Tulsa Opera received $50,000. The Tulsa Oratorio Chorus received $25,000.

"It's adding a job. It's turning a part time job into a full time job and creating a position we hope to maintain indefinitely in the future," said John Peter Jeffries of Tulsa Opera.

"Having a funded, full time position is essential in attracting top talent," said Kostis Protopapas, Tulsa Opera’s Artistic Director.

Protopapas says having that full-time position funded is crucial to the success of the opera because it provides them with a high-caliber artist.

"The thing is you can't let the artistic quality lapse because of money. You have to find a way to save the money somewhere. But the product should never suffer," said Protopapas.

According to the Oklahoma Arts Council there are twenty other Oklahoma arts organizations which received stimulus funding from other avenues. Here is a list:

• Arts and Humanities of Tulsa $28,360

• Ballet Oklahoma $28,360

• Bartlesville Symphony $15,000

• BLAC $28,360

• Cimarron Circuit Opera $15,000

• Gilbert and Sullivan $15,000

• Grand Lake Festivals $15,000

• Lawton Community Theatre $15,000

• Living Arts $15,000

• Mabee Gerrer Museum of Art $15,000

• Oklahoma Children’s Theatre $15,000

• Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park $28,360

• Red Earth $28,360

• Tulsa Symphony $15,000

• [Artspace] at Untitled $15,000

• Woodward Arts Council $15,000

But not everyone is excited to see their tax dollars going to the arts.

"I'm very concerned about what's happening right now," said Natalie Linn who is actually an art dealer. She's not a fan of the stimulus being spent this way.

"That’s how I make a living, but I'm very concerned about, I'm concerned about my children," said Linn.

Others think it's a good investment.

"If it's a draw, I mean if it brings people from out of town, I think it will circulate the money, it's, you know, a multiplying factor isn't it?" said an unidentified man.

The director of Tulsa Opera says investing in the arts will give taxpayers one of the best possible returns on their dollar.

"We need to think about the country's soul as well as its body. And what we do is to serve the cultural aspect of the country, to maintain our cultural identity," said Jeffries.

The Topix forum is an opportunity for website users to share their opinions. The comments do not reflect the opinions held by the Oklahoma Impact Team, The News On 6, or NEWS 9. We reserve the right to remove any posting or comment.
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