Approved: Oklahoma High School for Visual and Performing Arts

Wednesday, August 12th 2009, 9:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

UNDATED -- As many Oklahoma students head back to class, there's a push to create a brand new statewide arts high school.  Governor Brad Henry transformed a Tulsa father and son's dream into reality with the stroke of a pen on Wednesday.  He signed into legislation a bill creating the Oklahoma High School for Visual and Performing Arts.

02/28/2008  Related Story: Performing Arts High School Being Pushed

Oklahoma has the home-grown talent, now a father and son want to create a statewide high school to hone it.

"Arts education in this state needs a nice shot in the arm," said arts high school founder David Downing.

Downing and his son, Coleman, want to boost arts education by creating a school dedicated to it.  Coleman says he got the idea after he finished the Oklahoma Summer Arts program.

"Cause I wanted to stay after it was over. And, I was like it would be awesome if I could go here all the time. Why can't it be a school?" said Coleman Downing.

Downing's father said, why not?  He came up with a two-year residential arts high school, modeled after the Oklahoma School for Science and Math.

"Oh, I was really excited and I wanted to help all that I could. And, I keep talking to my dad at least twice a week about it," said Coleman Downing.

David Downing took the idea to the state capital.  And, after a few legislative missteps, the Oklahoma High School for Visual and Performing Arts is now law.

With an eye toward downtown, David Downing hopes the Oklahoma High School for Visual and Performing Arts will take shape in an old warehouse.

The Downings are still just in talks with the city.  But, they've always dreamed big and they believe this high school could really spotlight Tulsa and draw young people to the city.

"It would get kids to come to Tulsa that wouldn't normally come to Tulsa. And, they'd be good creative kids to have in Tulsa," said Coleman Downing.

 "It's gonna be very exciting. The arts kids in the state of Oklahoma are gonna finally have a place to get intensive training," said David Downing.

The Downings say they're trying to secure the land for the new high school.  And then, they want to raise $20-$25 million to get the plans off the ground.