NORMAN — The annual Allied Arts campaign begins Saturday. Although Norman has been included in its coverage area for years, it is widely believed the Oklahoma City-based Allied Arts will make a more concerted effort this year to woo Norman residents as patrons.
Local business leaders are being contacted by Allied Arts to become donors and/or set up workplace sites that will allow employee contributions to be channeled to Oklahoma City for allocation to Allied Arts member agencies.
On the surface, this would seem to be a positive development with a well organized and experienced arts fundraising organization, bringing together donations throughout a seven-county area for the benefit of its member agencies providing cultural services to the region.
But, at least for those of us in Norman, distinctions must be made so members of our community may act as informed donors.
Some facts to consider:
· Allied Arts has 26 member agencies. Of these, 22 member agencies (84.6 percent) are in Oklahoma City; another is in Shawnee (3.8 percent). Only three Norman arts organizations are member agencies. These organizations make up only 11.5 percent of all the Allied Arts member agencies.
· Norman Arts Roundtable has 29 Norman arts organizations as members, all of which are located in Norman. The three Norman arts organizations shared by both groups make up only 10 percent of the arts and humanities organizations of the Norman Arts Roundtable. The remaining 26 Norman arts organizations on the Roundtable receive no member agency funding from Allied Arts.
· The choice: So, for a Norman resident being solicited to give to the Allied Arts campaign, the question may be one of percentages. Give to Allied Arts, and the majority of your donation will support arts and cultural programs outside of Norman (88 percent of member agencies). Or give to any of the 29 Norman Arts Roundtable organizations and 100 percent of your donation will remain in Norman.
The choice, of course, remains with the individual donor.
It should be said, the question here is not the programming of the three Norman arts organizations, or even the other Allied Arts member agencies in Oklahoma City and Shawnee. These Norman organizations are worthy of support from any quarter for their exemplary service to our community.
But, then, the same could be said of their 26 sister organizations who are not receiving member agency funds from Allied Arts.
The question here is the support of the Norman community for its own arts programs.
In closing, consider this: We here in Norman are continually advised by the Norman Chamber of Commerce to “shop local.” The United Way of Norman has gone to great lengths to capture the donations of Norman residents working in Oklahoma City to support Norman social services. Both of these premiere community service organizations understand the critical importance of investing in our community.
In my opinion, it should be the same with patronage to Norman arts organizations.
To quote the United Way of Norman website, “Give where you live.”
Norman H. Hammon has served as a consultant / trainer to several Central Oklahoma arts organizations. He is the author of the book “Fund Raising … for the rest of us,” is a grant writing instructor at OSU-OKC and is a former member of the Norman City Council.
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