August 21, 2007 at 10:28 PM CDT - Updated June 30 at 10:15 PM
Oklahoma City, OK - Betty Price, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Arts Council since 1983, has announced that she is retiring, effective October 1. Deputy Director Suzanne Tate will be named Interim Director.
Since this state agency was created over 40 years ago, the Oklahoma Arts Council has had a tremendous impact on the development of the arts in the state. Price, a recognized leader in the art world, has been at the helm of the Council for most of that period of impressive growth.
"Betty Price is an icon," said Jim Tolbert, chair of the Oklahoma Arts Council. "Her extraordinary energy, passionate commitment and wise stewardship have resulted in the creation of the Oklahoma Arts Council's highly successful and nationally recognized programs. Her efforts have helped to stimulate the expansion of arts activities that enhance the quality of life and foster community development. Her tireless leadership has set a standard which all future leaders of the arts in Oklahoma will be measured against. On behalf of the board of the Arts Council, I want to wish Betty a long, happy and productive retirement."
Price began her tenure at the Arts Council in 1974 and was named the Executive Director in 1983. As an advisor to the State Capitol Preservation Commission, Price has been a guiding force in the commissioning and dedication of public art at the State Capitol. She has directed the commissions of major murals, portraits and sculptures in the public areas of the Capitol and was an advisor for the Capitol dome.
"I am extremely proud of the work of the Oklahoma Arts Council and the vibrant arts community we have in our state," said Price. "The arts are increasingly recognized as critical not only to our quality of life, but to economic development and cultural tourism." Price points to the arts organizations, their staff and the thousands of volunteers as the reason for the arts success in the state.
She is a passionate advocate for public arts funding and the return of art and music teachers to Oklahoma's elementary schools. "The arts have been a driving force in my life. Fulfillment in my work as a public servant is knowing that a future Maria Tallchief or Allan Houser could be a second grader gazing for the first time at the splendor of Oklahoma art and artists."
Price has touched almost every aspect of the arts through statewide service on numerous committees. She is a member of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, the American Indian Cultural Center, Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, the National Board of Artrain USA, Oklahoma Tourism Promotion Advisory Committee, Friends of the Mansion and Friends of the Capitol. She has served as an arts advisor to many other state and non-profit entities.
A member of the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame, Price was honored as the 2006 Red Earth Ambassador of the Year in Oklahoma City. In 2000, she was named State Arts Agency Director of the Year by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Washington, DC.
An accomplished visual artist, Price was represented by Norman Wilks Gallery. She was a private piano instructor before joining Rose State College's Community Service Art faculty during the late 70s and taught school in the Norman and Mid-Del Schools. Price worked for the Oklahoma State Senate as well as Gov. George Nigh.
As a native of Muskogee, Price graduated from Central High School and Northeastern State University (NSU) with a degree in music education. In 2001, she was named distinguished alumni by NSU and is in the NSU Music Hall of Fame as well as "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities."
Price's family includes her husband, Norris, their two children, daughter Lisa Ann and son George and his wife Lisa Jan, two grandchildren, Natalie and Matthew and her sister Elaine Mason.