The Norman Transcript

N-town stories

December 13, 2013

Norman art community a best kept secret

NORMAN — Norman, Okla., might be most well-known across the country for being home to Sooner football and the National Weather Center. But for some locals the arts are the city’s best kept secret.

As the third largest city in the state, Norman — dubbed the “City of Festivals” — is home to many arts organizations and events, ranging from small and large to visual and performing arts. For Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Communications Manager Stefanie Brickman, the city-wide success is thanks to many elements.

“Just because you’ve got the right ingredients in your cupboard it doesn’t mean it’s going to produce a fantastic meal out of your oven,” Brickman said. “You’ve got to be able to have the right kind of people involved, with the right kind of ideas and the right kind of man power that are going to put in the blood sweat and tears.”

And Norman has exactly that.

Erinn Gavaghan, Norman Arts Council executive director, said Norman has every thing it needs to create a successful arts community: public support, private support, talent and interest.

Norman’s arts catalyst likely began in 1980, Gavaghan said, when voters passed the city’s four percent transient guest tax, also known as the hotel/motel tax. Twenty-five percent of said tax was designated for public funding of the arts, to be managed and granted to arts organizations by the then newly formed Norman Arts Council.

“Coming back from the state arts conference, other communities are very envious that we have that built in here,” Gavaghan said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons that we have more arts organizations here in Norman than there are members of Allied Arts — and they’re all really strong. We’ve got small arts organizations and we’ve got big arts organizations here, and the whole gamut of performing arts, visual arts, humanities.”

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