New Oklahoma Contemporary campus to be a place for community to gather, create and experience art
Oklahoma Contemporary plans for its new campus at NW 11th and Broadway to be a place for community to gather, create and experience art.
The state’s next cultural destination, a contemporary arts center in downtown Oklahoma City, will open in the fall of 2019. The new campus is designed by architect Rand Elliott and built by Smith & Pickel Construction.
For 28 years, Oklahoma Contemporary has provided arts education, performances and exhibitions at State Fair Park and now reaches around 18,000 people annually. The building is filled to capacity with camps, classes, exhibits and programming. The move will allow the organization to keep pace with demand, serve an estimated 100,000 annual visitors and more than triple programs and class offerings.
“Oklahoma Contemporary connects the art of now and what’s next to the state of Oklahoma and beyond,” said Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis. “The art and innovation of tomorrow will be forged through the creative connections between different art forms and ideas. We craft partnerships with artists and organizations to foster exchange and collaboration in a space all the arts can call home.”
This visionary plan is succeeding – attendance at Oklahoma Contemporary’s fairgrounds location has increased nearly 700 percent from 2015 to 2017.
Research shows Oklahoma City citizens want art and creative expression in their lives. Julia Kirt, executive director of Oklahomans for the Arts, confirms: Oklahoma’s nonprofit arts sector attracted more than 8.4 million visits in 2015 and, of that, more than 23 percent were from outside the region. Central Oklahoma arts organizations are attracting more visitors with relevant and strong arts programming.
“Oklahomans are hungry for unique experiences that reflect on contemporary life,” Kirt said. “Oklahoma Contemporary’s programming brings a depth and breadth of experiences to our community that is much needed.”
When the center opens in 2019, three major visual arts exhibitions will anchor annual programming – inspiring workshops, conversations and classes to connect diverse audiences to innovative ideas and creative experiences. These shows will feature the works of world-renowned artists from Oklahoma and beyond. Admission to exhibitions – and much of the new public programming – will remain free. And the art will continue outdoors. A sculpture garden will feature rotating works, and Campbell Art Park will host large-scale sculptural installations year round.
The new building’s third floor, dedicated to performing arts, will serve as a creative home for local resident companies in dance, theater, music, film and culture. Building on Oklahoma Contemporary’s tradition of supporting local artists and attracting the world’s best and brightest, the flexible performance space will also feature touring performances and unique collaborations.
Oklahoma Contemporary’s new Studio School will offer an expanded suite of classes for youth and adults. In addition to courses in visual arts, digital media, performance and literature, Oklahoma Contemporary’s flagship programs in ceramics and fiber arts will expand their impact with cutting-edge facilities in The Studios building. Located in an historic renovated warehouse space adjacent to the 50,000 sq foot Folding Light building, The Studios will house the center’s industrial arts programs (ceramics, fiber, metal, wood, glass and more).
Young or old, we all need the tools to ignite individual creativity, Davis said. “In the spirit of Oklahoma wildcatters of days past, we build this home to explore new ideas, forms and unexpected combinations to tap the energy needed to fuel the future.”