Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on
your “Horizon.” What began as just the desire to help Oklahoma youth develop their artistic
talents has become an annual summer haven for young people interested in the arts. This
week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we begin our show with a trip to Quartz Mountain Lodge to see
how the Oklahoma Arts Institute is teaching teachers in arts education.
Christina Pickard: We’re trying to figure out ways that we can weave it in meaningfully.
Because realistically we know we don’t have kids who are gonna be future artists. I mean,
maybe a handful, but you’re trying to figure out a way to make this a lifelong thread in
someone’s life. Rob: Austin Moore looks at the growth in filmmaking
in Oklahoma. Tava Sofsky: Films, television, commercials,
music videos, all of that is helping to grow our industry.
Rob: And we end our day in the classroom, where some stars are being born. Stay with
us for “Oklahoma Horizon.” Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made
possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized
technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic
future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.
Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping
good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s
your host, Rob McClendon. Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for
joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, in true artistic fashion, Oklahoma’s Summer Arts Institute
comes from humble beginnings. With just $5,000 and the dream of a summer camp for the arts,
in 1977 a group of civic leaders began what has become one of the country’s premier arts
academies. Creative minds from across the state come each summer to Quartz Mountain
Lodge in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, to express and develop their artistic talent, talent that
is nurtured throughout the year by their school teachers. And each year, these same teachers
have the opportunity to spend a long autumn weekend to find their own inspiration for
the classroom. Blane Singletary has our story. Blane Singletary: Picturesque Quartz Mountain
State Park in southwestern Oklahoma, surrounded by nature and inspiration everywhere you look,
it’s seen by some as the ultimate creative hideaway.
Libby Sublett: When you pull over the hill and come into the mountains and see the lake
and the performing arts center, you know you’re removed from the outside world.
Blane: That’s Libby Sublett. She teaches music at Riverfield Country Day School and is also
a camp counselor for the Oklahoma Arts Institute’s annual summer camp.
Sublett: You’re somewhere different, and you’re somewhere special, you’re somewhere quiet,
and you’re somewhere where that you can really focus on what you need to do here, and going
back out into the world you feel re-energized to do the work that you’re called to do.
Blane: Since 1977, the summer sessions at Quartz Mountain have brought in the most promising
young artists. For two weeks, these students get to hone their craft with some of the greatest
artists in the world. But this fall weekend isn’t about them. Today, their teachers are
the ones getting down and dirty with arts and crafts. Teachers like Rebecca Lowber-Collins.
Rebecca Lowber-Collins: It’s an amazing place where we all get to create art, learn something
new. It’s something inspirational to take back with our kids, and it’s for us as much
as it is for them. Blane: Oklahoma Public School teachers, regardless
of their subject, get to take part in this long weekend of workshops and activities free
of charge thanks to the State Department of Education as well as the Oklahoma Arts Council.
On paper, it serves as an extra dose of professional development, which admittedly looks quite
different compared to other professions, as Adrienne Day of Blanchard Elementary explains.
Adrienne Day: It’s specifically geared towards artists, and artists have unique needs for
professional development, and this suits us perfectly.
Blane: In many ways, the teachers, no matter how experienced they are, become students
while they’re here and get the opportunity to take part in artistic disciplines from
the visual to performance arts. Christina Pickard: They are really good at
figuring out ways to nurture the creativity in every learner. Whether or not your entry
point is, “Oh, my gosh I’m really nervous about this,” and, “I don’t know what I’m doing
but I’m here,” or people who are studio artists. Blane: Christina Pickard is an art teacher
at Westminster, an independent school in Oklahoma City. When we spoke with her, she was taking
part in a poetry collage project involving a lot of English instructors as well.
Christina Pickard: There are things that we take back, you know, like every workshop I’ve
participated in, I’m taking things back. And I’m already trying to figure out how to take
this wax back and what I’m going to be doing with the collage with my high school kids.
Blane: She’s well within her area of expertise here, but she says even after years of experience
she still finds herself off the deep end here sometimes.
Pickard: I’ve had other workshops where I’m the one who’s really nervous. Like when I’ve
done workshops that involve music and dance, I can’t carry a tune and I have two left feet,
but they make everyone feel good. Blane: In that sense, the fall academy at
Quartz Mountain helps teachers walk a mile in their students’ shoes. At the same time,
they are working with other teachers, networking and trading ideas to bring back to the classroom.
Pickard: Teaching is sort of a lonely profession. We’ve got a chance to work with the kids,
but you’re the only adult in the room. And so there are times when you can just feel
depleted, and this is a chance to sort of fill up your tank.
Blane: We caught up with Pickard about a month later at Westminster School. Here, just like
at Quartz Mountain, the arts are alive and well. The halls were adorned with student
artwork, and they were all working hard on these contraptions.
Pickard: Today in class, we were actually finishing up our mini golf courses. So this
was a project that was an integration between math and art.
Blane: At Westminster, there’s a strong emphasis on getting students thinking individually
and working together. The teachers are really setting a strong example of that with projects
like these that cross subject lines. Pickard: When they were in math they were
working mostly with graph paper, so they were thinking in terms of like a blue print. The
goal for the fifth-grade team was thinking about this I guess from two prongs, right?
Thinking about it mathematically and thinking about it aesthetically.
Blane: Pickard says through these types of art activities, these kids are gaining skills
that can’t exactly be tested. These noncognitive skills can often be forgotten when it comes
to teaching to the standardized test, but she says they’re just as much if not more
important. Pickard: And those are the skills that have
to do with perseverance and tenacity. Or focus, getting along, cooperation, collaboration
— all of those things that sometimes in our workplace as adults we take for granted.
Blane: Pickard says this is why getting arts in the classroom are important and not just
for students who want to be artists. Pickard: We’re trying to figure out ways that
we can weave it in meaningfully. Because realistically we know we don’t have kids who are gonna be
future artists. I mean, maybe a handful, but you’re trying to figure out a way to make
this a lifelong thread in someone’s life and maybe help give meaning to someone’s life.
Blane: And she’s looking no further than her time at Quartz Mountain for great ways to
do that. Remember that poetry collage project? Pickard: In the springtime, the fifth-graders
here are going to be heading into a unit on poetry, and I thought, OK, this is gonna be
a great way for us to lead into that. So I’ve never tried it, and the idea of a lot of 10-year-olds
with a big pot of hot wax is vaguely alarming. Blane: But another thing students are encouraged
to do here is make mistakes. Even if this project doesn’t pan out, the fact that they
tried to do it is most important at the end of the day. And putting all these educational
and developmental benefits aside, having the arts in the classroom is just fun.
Pickard: School should be fun. I mean, it should be hard work but it should also be
fun. It should be a place where kids look forward to going. So it’s really important
for them to be able to have a chance to coalesce and bring together all the knowledge that
they have. And they like it. Rob: Now, when we return, my conversation
with the executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Institute, Julie Cohen.
Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things
that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma. Rob McClendon: Well, with a law degree from
Tulane, Julie Cohen’s career has taken her from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. But it is
her love of the arts that has helped guide the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute since 2007.
I sat down with her during a break at this fall’s arts workshop.
Julie Cohen: As far as the teacher go, there are very few opportunities for professional
development in the arts, and they tell us that this is better than any other professional
development they get. So they need this. They’re arts educators, and they don’t have a place
to go to get that. Now, for the students, you know, we’ve been cutting budgets around
the state, and they don’t always have the opportunity to study the arts in their school
so this is where they can come, really work on their music, their dance, drawing and painting,
film. They come here for that intensive period of time, and it really changes their lives.
Rob: Something Julie knows firsthand. Cohen: I loved photography in high school,
and that was one of the few things I really connected with in high school. And a teacher
of mine told me about this program at Quartz Mountain, and I had no idea where Quartz Mountain
was. I was from Tulsa, had no idea what the program was, but he said you need to submit
your portfolio. I got accepted, and I drove across the state to Quartz Mountain where
I studied with this French photographer who’s really well-known, an amazing teacher. And
it just helped me find people that were interested in what I was interested in. It made me know
that, you know, just because you’re interested in the arts and not all the kids in your school
are, it doesn’t mean you’re a weirdo or you know. It helped me kind of grow in that way
so it was pretty life-changing. Rob: Is it really a cool thing to be able
to see that light come on with some of the students that come here?
Cohen: Yes. One of the things we do best is give students a nurturing environment where
they can take some risks in their art form and learn this is what they really love to
do. And they love being around other students who are like that. So we, we get students
from every corner of the state and especially those kids coming from really small towns.
They may be the only kid in their school who cares about photography or film or dance,
and then they get here, and they just can share that with other students. And they make
these connections with others across the state that they keep forever. I mean, I run into
the kids throughout the year, and they’re often getting together at gallery openings
in Oklahoma City or, you know, because they found that common interest.
Rob: Let’s look at the broader issue of the arts in our schools. You know, we talk so
much now about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, the STEM subjects and the importance
of students studying them, but there’s also a new push to put an “A” in there for the
arts. Cohen: Right. STEAM, we want to see more of
that. There’s a lot of research out there that these things go hand-in-hand. You know,
math in the arts, and a lot of those students benefit from introducing arts into their curriculum.
It helps with all their studies. One of the things we try to do in the Fall Arts Institute
with our educators is give them an opportunity to learn how to integrate the arts in their
classroom. So this weekend for instance, we have a class in collage and poetry, and so
it’s a way of integrating arts with English and that way maybe they can connect with the
kids who aren’t, maybe they’re having trouble in English but if you create an artistic component
to that class, they might be able to connect with it a little more.
Rob: All at no cost to students or teachers thanks to a public/private partnership.
Cohen: I just feel like I have the greatest job in the world to be able to help provide
this opportunity to Oklahoma’s really talented students who otherwise would never get to
study with people at this really high level. And we see over and over just how it’s really
impacted lives across the state, and I just think it’s one of the most special things
that Oklahoma has going for it. There’s nothing like it in the rest of the country and especially
that full-scholarship aspect, it really sets us apart from other states, and I think it’s
a real gem. Rob: Now, auditions for the Summer Arts Institute
are held across the state from January through March, and you can find an application on
their website, which we do have a link to under this story at okhorizon.com.
Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” lights, camera, action, in the classroom,
but first, Oklahoma filmmaking. Rob McClendon: Well, film is one of the most
collaborative art forms, often requiring a broad spectrum of disciplines including writing,
acting, music and visual design just to name a few, and it’s an industry that’s in search
of people with just those skills right here in Oklahoma. Our Austin Moore takes a look
at what’s driving that growth. Austin Moore: Movies. They make us laugh.
[Movie Excerpt – The Jerk: (gunshots) He hates these cans! Stay away from the cans!]
[Movie Excerpt – The Lion King: Dad?] Austin: They make us cry.
[Movie excerpt – The Lion King: Dad. Come on. You gotta get up. Dad?]
Austin: They put our fears front and center. [Movie excerpt – The Birds: Sounds of bird
wings flapping and children screaming.] Austin: And they remind us of the greatness
to which we aspire. [Movie excerpt – Rudy: Sounds of crowd cheering.]
Austin: Now, we all have our favorite movie, our favorite scene, our favorite actor, but
for some, just watching isn’t enough. They have to be a part of this collaborative art
form. Wilson McDonald: You know, the level of intimacy
between the people that work together as far as filmmakers and, you know, the directors
that bring this whole thing together. They’re really out to make it out for the people,
and that’s really cool to me. Austin: I met student Wilson McDonald during
a panel discussion about the Oklahoma film industry at this year’s deadCenter Film Festival.
McDonald: I’ve always been passionate about the film industry. I actually got into Francis
Tuttle to learn how to work with cameras and audio and learn how to master editing softwares
so I could hopefully be a part of all this. Austin: And to listen to this panel, Wilson
is in the right state. Maura Anderson: So we were really solid about
shooting here. Just, I have done a lot of location films, and I know how much production
value you get from being in the actual place. Not only from locations but from casting.
Austin: Director Maura Anderson is currently in postproduction with her film “Heartland”
shot entirely in Oklahoma. [Movie Excerpt – Heartland: (wind howling)
Wouldn’t it be safer where you are? It seems safer away from the window. You are fine.
Dorothy never got in a tub. Well, Dorothy wound up in Oz.]
Anderson: There was just no way to imitate it, really. I mean we came out and scouted
and you just can’t find that stuff, you know, in California or anywhere else. It’s a gorgeous
state. Tava Sofsky: They want to come to Oklahoma,
and they want to shoot. They want to film here because Oklahoma hasn’t been seen as
much as Louisiana, Georgia or other places. Austin: Tava Sofsky is the director of Oklahoma’s
Film and Music office; among her duties, administering the state’s film incentive program.
Sofsky: If they shoot in the state of Oklahoma and have a minimum budget of $50,000 and a
local spend of a minimum of $25,000 then they are eligible to utilize the 35 percent cash
rebate. Austin: Despite some controversy, the Oklahoma
legislature recently renewed this incentive through 2024. Tava Sofsky believes this is
because of the broad impact film and television can have on a local economy.
Sofsky: People usually think, why should the state offer this cash rebate program if it’s
only going to affect the film community, but there’s so much more to it. There’s that whole
multiplier effect for, you know, caterers and bakers and seamstresses and so forth.
So I think that it’s important for people to know that for them to work in this industry,
if you, anything that you love to do, style hair, apply makeup, that there’s something
for them and so films, televisions, commercials, music videos, all of that is helping grow
our industry. Austin: Growth strong enough that Tulsa has
now added its own Office of Film, Music, Arts and Culture. Abby Kurin is the director.
Abby Kurin: People are drawn to cities with a strong arts and culture scene. So you leave
the office, what do you do? You want to go visit a museum. You want to see a great exhibit.
You’re gonna go see a band at a venue. Not only is that economic development in terms
of job creation, but it’s also the culture of life and it lets people not only love your
city, but want to stay there, too. [Movie Excerpt – Hollis: You got them big
dreams, don’t ya boy? Ain’t nothin’ funnier than a boy and his dreams. You’ll figure that
out soon enough.] Austin: Another film screened at deadCenter
was “Hollis” directed by Oklahoma City’s Sonny Priest.
[Movie Excerpt – Hollis: Hollis? You ever want to leave? I like it here. Better than
a hospital, I like it here.] Sonny Priest: Our funding was Oklahoma. Our
actors were Oklahoma. Our music was Oklahoma. Our whole crew was from Oklahoma. This is
an Oklahoma movie by Oklahomans, for Oklahomans. Austin: Do you feel encouraged by the environment
that we have here in Oklahoma City and then across the state really as a whole?
Priest: Absolutely. As Oklahoma filmmakers we are very encouraged by Oklahoma taxpayers
and politicians getting in line and saying “Hey, we care about the arts. We care about
not only the arts but we know that it’s hard to get these things done.” So they say there’s
actually a six times multiplier on film rebates. So every time you spend a dollar on a film,
you get that back six times in the community through taxes, through just services and everything
like that. Our film’s all Oklahoma. We spent all of our money in Oklahoma. So all the money
we spent on it, there’s no telling how much actual revenue was grossed for the city, for
the state, through taxes, through people, beyond just our film.
Austin: But more than simply revenue, this industry is creating opportunity for those
with inspiration and ambition. McDonald: My plan is to be the next Walt Disney
if I can. Making the dreams and imaginations of other people come to life is what it is
all about. Austin: And that is the stuff movies are made
of. [Music – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.]
Rob: Now, if you’d like to learn more about filmmaking in the state, Oklahoma’s Film & Music
office does a great job with regular email blasts about all the latest work and happenings
going on all across Oklahoma, plus some sneak peaks at upcoming projects. Now, to see that
plus the film office’s latest locations reel, which incidentally, is a great example of
just some of the beauty Oklahoma has to offer, just head to the value added section of our
website, where I have links to both. Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve
seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV,
or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.
Rob McClendon: Well, one of the teachers attending this year’s Fall Arts Institute for teachers
is an instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, so we decided to go and visit their
class. Joining me now is our Courtney Maye. Courtney Maye: Well, it’s a broadcast and
video production class that’s already landing professional gigs, and the class’s work is
so impressive, one internationally recognized company is placing some of its video work
in the hands of these Francis Tuttle students. Courtney: Lights, camera, action! Students
in Francis Tuttle’s broadcast and video production class are learning the art of directing, script
writing and last minute touch-ups that go in to broadcasting.
Male Voice: All right. I’ll whip it up for you ladies.
Waleed Salim: This program is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I have that background
in video, and I had to go to college to get that, to get the uh, the information that
these students get in a program that they can complete inside of a year or two.
Courtney: And this broadcasting class is producing fun, educational videos for Kimray – a worldwide
oilfield manufacturing company. We’re called upon by outside companies to
actually come and help them in their production pieces. So it gives them the experience of
not only shooting but to edit those down into packages and working with customers.
Courtney: And this customer is Katrina Castle, Kimray’s wellness engagement coordinator.
Katrina Castle: It just happened to mesh that what we were needing they could help us do,
and that would in turn help them with their projects as well.
Courtney: And one student’s name will roll through the credits more than once. Cameron
Becker’s creative script writing landed him the job of director as well, and he says he
feels right at home. Cameron Becker: My team and I decided that
I should direct for this part of our project, and, I mean, I have experience with leadership
already because I used to be in the Army. So it was actually kind of natural for me
to step into a leadership role. Courtney: And it’s an opportunity that’s giving
Becker a glimpse at his broadcasting career. Becker: I am really excited that they reached
out to us in the first place and that I got to be a part of it, that I got to sit here
and help them in something that’s really big. Courtney: After this short-term program, students
like Becker have the opportunity to land entry-level jobs in all genres of broadcasting. And that
is what instructor Salim is most proud of. Salim: They have the opportunity to leave
here and get employed on a relatively short-term program like this is here. It’s awesome! I
sometimes wish the students understood what, what they have in front of them right here,
and some of them do, and they take advantage of it, and that makes us excited here.
Rob: So what are some of the job opportunities these students will have upon completion of
this class? Courtney: Well, anything from production to
directing and even on-air talent. And it’s a two-year program, but when these students
are done, they will have a lot of the same opportunities as a people who completed a
four-year degree. And not only that, instructor Salim says the program is making connections
with broadcast professionals all across the state, and that alone has already landed some
students in the class internships. Rob: All right. Sounds great. Thank you so
much, Courtney. Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.
Rob McClendon: It’s called STEM. Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at a simple
acronym for subjects that could determine our nation’s future.
Mary Fallin: It’s important for our future because it’s about our prosperity as a state
and about people being able to find a good paying career path in Oklahoma.
Rob: Science, technology, engineering and math, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland,
“Oklahoma Horizon.” Thanks for including us as a part of your
day. I’m Rob McClendon. Hope to see you back here next week.
Male Announcer: “Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology
Education and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow
good things. Thank you for watching “Oklahoma Horizon.”