2010 Annual Meeting
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Winds of Opportunity
As much as Oklahoma’s infamous tornadoes and storms generate both gentle and severe winds impacting the state, so too have the winds of opportunity impacted the nation’s cultural landscape. Winds, while possibly destructive, also can usher in new perspectives, opportunities, and critical self examination that may lead to strengthening organizations and the development of previously unforeseen goals. The 2010 joint Annual Meeting of AASLH and the Oklahoma Museums Association will consider these ideas against the backdrop of a changing America.
Oklahoma offers the perfect locale for examining how the winds of opportunity can alter an economy, change a life, or build a community. As home to major oil and gas producing giants, Oklahoma is keenly aware of market fluctuations and national trends. As energy prices skyrocketed in 2008, it also allowed the oil and gas industry to increase their support of cultural and arts activities. Some of the companies that experienced dramatic revenue growth shared some of those profits with museums and cultural entities resulting in substantial support for the development of new museums, renovations, exhibits and program support, and contributions to endowments.
At the same time, the economy negatively impacted institutional visitation by decreasing travel for the public, particularly school groups, as well as decreasing opportunities to develop membership and small donors. Alternatively, various forms of collaborations, often necessitated by adverse economic impacts, resulted in new avenues of support to help offset fuel cost increases for schools while encouraging the development of new and alternative avenues of support for cultural activity participation.
Examples such as this present opportunities and changes in direction that can refresh and reinvigorate an institution. Convening in Oklahoma City will be representatives from a variety of history and cultural organizations that will share how they have weathered the economic storms of 2009 and 2010 and evolved into relevant community members that have improved the lives of their audiences.
As a host city, Oklahoma City offers unique examples and inspiration. After a period of very slow growth and limited cultural development, the winds of opportunity swept through when citizens approved several public funding initiatives resulting in the development of new facilities for cultural entities and major expansion of urban business opportunities. The development of new public sports, performance, literary, civic, and school infrastructures have allowed for a cultural fluorescence that is unparalleled in Oklahoma’s history and is considered by many to be a national model. During the past ten years new, renovated or greatly expanded museums, civic centers, sports arenas, libraries and schools have opened dramatically and positively impacting the quality of life and the economy.
The statewide celebration of the Oklahoma State Centennial in 2007 resulted in millions of dollars for programs and facilities. Additional recent cultural endeavors around the metro area also included renovation and dramatic expansion of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; the opening of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History; a new and expanded Oklahoma City Museum of Art; the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum; a new downtown metropolitan public library; a new headquarters for the Oklahoma Historical Society–the Oklahoma History Center; the new Gaylord-Pickens Heritage Museum; and an expanded Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. (Each further enriches the area’s art and cultural scene.) Oklahoma City is also the of home emerging professional and minor league sports teams and venues including the AT&T Ballpark, home of the minor league baseball Redhawks, and the Ford Center, which hosts major concerts and events and (to) serves as the home for the state’s first major league sports team–the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Associated opportunities include, the development of the downtown Oklahoma City Bricktown Business District including numerous hotels, restaurants, clubs, bars, shops, and the Bricktown Canal featuring regular boat tours and the installation of a world’s largest collection of monumental bronze sculptures depicting the Oklahoma Land Run.
In addition, the development of a 125,000 square foot American Indian Cultural Center & Museum representing Oklahoma’s thirty-nine tribes, currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2012, promises to add a focal point for American Indian culture and study that will offer major new state and national opportunities and collaborative options.
All of this and more awaits you at the 2010 AASLH-OMA Annual Meeting where you will enjoy a thoroughly modern city with the Western spirit for entrepreneurship, transformation, and innovation. The Winds of Opportunity will gently embrace you in Oklahoma City and will send you home reacquainted with familiar colleagues, a pocketful of new colleagues, and exciting new ideas for the betterment of your institutions.