Oklahoma Arts Council awards grants to SWOK organizations

Oklahoma Arts Council awards grants to SWOK organizations
The Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra & Lawton Community Theatre are two of nine organizations that received CARES Act Funding through the Oklahoma Art Council. (Source: KSWO)

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Christmas came early for the arts and cultural industry across the state. Nearly 170 organizations were given a share of $3 million in CARES Act Funding.

Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Arts Council authorized the support to an industry that has been crippled by the Coronavirus Pandemic. The grant giving some hope to both the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra and Lawton Community Theater.

“It was a wonderful gift, $20,000,” said Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rhonda Norrell.

Chance Harmon, with Lawton Community Theatre said, “We are thrilled, we received a $20,000 grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council.”

This money will be used to revive what’s been a tough year for the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra. Funding is down 50%.

“Our season ticket subscribers have bottomed out because we’re relying on donations,” said Norrell. “Some of our ticket purchasers have graciously donated the money for their tickets, but it’s still way down.”

It’s a similar situation for Lawton Community Theater.

“Normally we sell season tickets, we weren’t able to do that this year,” Harmon said. “We have huge sponsorships but weren’t able to have those this year. We squeezed in two shows that we were able to socially distance. But when you can’t sell season tickets, it impacts your organization a great deal.”

What Harmon and Norrell are both calling a ‘gift’ - an extra $20,000 will go a long way.

“It takes some pressure off of us to find additional funding to get things in place to do the next concert,” said Norrell.

“We’ll go under operating,” said Chance Harmon. “And hopefully with a vaccine coming out, we’ll slowly open back up. And put on live theater again for our community.”

The Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra and Lawton Community Theatre weren’t the only organizations in Southwest Oklahoma to receive grants. Others included Lawton Arts and Humanities, Chickasha Community Theatre, Duncan Little Theatre, Chisholm Trail Art Council, Chisholm Trail Heritage Center Association, Cotton County Art Council, and the Kiowa Tribe.

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