25th Anniversary Profiles


Oklahoma Children's Theatre remembers their beginnings...

 In 1988 Marilyn Myers, Executive Director of The Kirkpatrick Foundation ( not yet KFF)  approached Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (OCT) about moving their location from the Oklahoma City Community College to City Arts Center on the fairgrounds.

From the beginning, August 1989 it was a successful partnership with both Executive Directors working together to grow audiences and in some instances programming.   In 1992 Lyn Adams was asked to lead a new and creative partnership between both City Arts Center and Oklahoma Children’s Theatre.  Both organizations would be led by Adams, but would remain separate nonprofit organizations with their own Board of Directors, by laws, fundraising and programming. Thus began a very mutually successful partnership that lasted for 13 years.  Adding to OCT’s existing summer theatre camps were art camps filling the building throughout the summer with hundreds of children and their parents.   Saturday art and Theatre classes were developed and both organizations grew and increased community programming.

"One of my most loved collaborations was the Christmas party we held for children in hospice care," remembers Lyn Adams. "With Good Shepherd Hospice volunteers and staff and participants, Children’s Hospital, CAC and OCT we gave  the families and the children in Hospice an amazing Christmas.

"As buses drove the participants to CAC along the way they stopped for tap dancing reindeers, elves who had lost their way, hot chocolate and treat bags.  Upon arrival at CAC they were met by all the Fairy tale characters who, incidentally are always called in to the North Pole before Christmas to help with the toys.  Dinner was served, Santa’s Elves were busy carving toys in Studio I, Santa’s baby reindeers (goats with reindeer horns) were being cared for along with bunnies, puppies and pygmy pigs and the seven dwarfs were making take home crafts.  All at once there was a tremendous crash on the roof and to everyone’s surprise Santa and Mrs. Clause had crashed on the roof and had to be rescued by the Fire engine that was amazingly parked down by the arena.  After a daring roof rescue, Santa, Mrs Claus and all the firemen handed out gifts to everyone.  At the end of the night because their sleigh had crashed, a helicopter arrived to take the Clauses home to the North Pole."


deadcenter_logo.jpgYes it's true, deadCENTER Film Festival started at Oklahoma Contemporary!


In the summer of 2001, brothers Justan and Jayson Floyd worked with the team at Oklahoma Contemporary to start a one night screening of locally made short films. Now, 14 years later, that one night event has become the deadCENTER Film Festival, Oklahoma's largest film festival and one of the "20 Coolest Film festivals in the World" according to MovieMaker magazine. 

"Oklahoma Contemporary has incubated and inspired artists across all disciplines," according to Executive Director Lance McDaniel, "Their focus on education and making arts accessible to all have fundamentally changed Oklahoma for the better." 

 For five days each June, deadCENTER brings 20,000 people to downtown Oklahoma City to watch amazing films and meet award winning filmmakers, actors, critics and distributors. International recognition and awards have made deadCENTER a feather in the cap of Oklahoma's creative renaissance. And, it all started because of the inclusive creative vision of Oklahoma Contemporary. 


From Kid Writer to Social Blogger
Former camper recalls first creative writing class 

Patrick Riley (shown as a youngster with his father, renowned artist Patrick Riley, Sr.) is the founder/editor of popular blog site, The Lost Ogle.  In the first of Oklahoma Contemporary's 25th Anniversary series, Riley graciously agreed to write of his experience growing up as an art camp kid - and the difference the experience made to his career path.


The summer of my sixth grade year, I spent a summer attending children’s art workshops at Oklahoma Contemporary. Back then I think it was called City Arts Center, or “that weird place with the observatory.” Regardless, don’t try and call it City Arts Center today – the people who work there will give you a dirty look.

I attended summer art classes at City Arts Center for a couple of reasons. The first is that my dad is a nationally recognized artist, mask maker and educator who taught at the workshop. The second is that my parents made me.

Yeah, I was that kid. Forced to go to art camp with my dad when I would rather be playing football, basketball or watching cartoons. Truth is, I really didn’t enjoy what I thought was “art” all that much. I think it was my way of rebelling.  Much like how the preacher’s daughter gets a tattoo and dates a guy named Rex who rides a motorcycle, I decided to worship Barry Switzer and admire Thomas Kinkaid paintings. The only difference is that instead of being sent to Falls Creek to find Jesus, I was sent to art camp.

 At this point you’re probably thinking “Holy $#!+, is this guy writing a testimonial for City Arts Center… or Oklahoma Contemporary…or whatever it’s called, or is this some strange therapy session?” Well, it’s kind of both. And don’t worry, it gets positive really soon.

Even though I did not want to go, the summer workshops ended up being a great experience for me. They opened my eyes to new interests, activities and hobbies that, oddly enough, set me on the path I am today.

The very first class I took was a two-week drawing and illustration course. In it, each student was to write and illustrate his or her own book. I loved it more than Mike Morgan loves a wall cloud. The drawing part was kind of fun, but what I really enjoyed was telling the story. It was my first exposure to creative writing, something I really had never tried before, and something (poor grammar aside) I soon realized I had a knack for.

Basically, thanks to that class I discovered a new interest that would develop into an obsession and passion. Throughout middle and high school I was like a little O. Henry, spitting out short stories faster than Chesapeake does fracking fluid. Fast-forward 25 years later and I have an English degree with an emphasis in creative writing and publish a satirical news and information blog kind of for a living. And it was some little class in a weird building at the State Fair Grounds that started it all.

Anyway, I’m not saying your kid is going to be awesome like me (thank God, huh) and discover their calling if you force them to attend art classes at Oklahoma Contemporary, but you really never know what discoveries they’ll make or things they’ll learn about themselves unless they go. 

Plus, it sure beats Falls Creek.