Oklahoma Contemporary

Media Release

Trent Riley Named Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center’s Executive Director

May 09, 2024


Contact: Marie Butterline | 405 951 0000 | mbutterline@okcontemp.org
Media kit: bit.ly/TrentRiley

Board President Molly Tolbert Announces Leadership Appointment

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (May 9, 2024) — The Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Trent Riley as its new executive director. Riley most recently served as Oklahoma Contemporary’s chief development officer. He is widely recognized for strategic leadership positions in arts development, membership engagement and community involvement and comes to his role of executive director with an impressive financial track record. Riley’s vision includes a renewed emphasis on mission, financial growth and providing contemporary art experiences to local, regional and national audiences. Riley holds a master’s degree in public history with an emphasis in museum studies and has written numerous articles for magazines and journals about art, history and culture.

“Trent’s successful tenure as chief development officer at Oklahoma Contemporary and deep roots in the culture of Oklahoma made him standout from an impressive field of candidates,” said Molly Tolbert, president of the board of trustees. “Our board is especially confident that Trent’s collaborative style and advancement expertise will help our state’s leading arts center fulfill its mission to encourage artistic expression through education, exhibitions and performance.”

Riley is a fifth-generation Oklahoman, his family residing in the state since before statehood. His grandfather was instrumental in the creation of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, where Riley held various leadership positions for nearly a decade before joining Oklahoma Contemporary in 2022. Riley lives in Oklahoma City with his family and is well known for contributing to Oklahoma City’s cultural renaissance over the last decade through his work in arts and culture administration.

“With arts education in schools at a critical point in society—and contemporary art the language of our time— our mission has never been more important,” said Trent Riley. “At Oklahoma Contemporary, we have one of the most engaged and exciting arts campuses in the region, and I look forward to working with the staff, board and community partners to elevate its impact.”

“We are extremely happy that Trent has accepted the top position at Oklahoma Contemporary,” said founder and chairman Christian Keesee. “Trent consistently exceeded our expectations. His genuine commitment to arts education and the culture of our state made him an excellent candidate for this position. We congratulate him and look forward to working with Trent as this exciting new chapter at Oklahoma Contemporary begins to unfold.”

For more than a decade at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, as a major gifts officer and membership manager, Riley helped generate more than $30 million in support of annual operations, capital improvements and special projects. A recognized writer and editor, his edited volume Drawing Fire: A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II (University Press of Kansas, 2019) received favorable reviews from The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Awards. Riley is passionate about arts and humanities education, has taught at the college level and is currently a board member for the Oklahoma Arts Institute Foundation. He assumed his role as executive director of Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center on May 1, 2024.

A media kit featuring this press release, high-resolution photos of Trent Riley, current and future exhibitions, programs and the new building can be found at bit.ly/TrentRiley. Interviews with Mr. Riley can be arranged through Marie Butterline, director of marketing and communications (mbutterline@okcontemp.org). Past press releases and information are archived at oklahomacontemporary.org/media.

About Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center
Oklahoma Contemporary, formed in 1989 as City Arts Center by Christian Keesee and Kirkpatrick Foundation director Marilyn Myers, is a nonprofit organization committed to providing quality, accessible and affordable arts programming. With a mission to encourage artistic expression in all its forms through education, exhibitions and performance, Oklahoma Contemporary is committed to instilling in the public a lifetime appreciation of the arts and enthusiasm for creative practice. For more information on free exhibitions, class schedules and public programs, visit oklahomacontemporary.org.

Note: With 8,000 square feet of galleries for visual art, the arts center’s new downtown campus includes a flexible theater, dance studio, nine classrooms, a café, store and rental event spaces. The 4.6-acre grounds also include The Studios, a renovated historic building for ceramics, fiber, printmaking and sculpture classes. Campbell Art Park, the Sculpture Garden and North Lawn are outdoor spaces for exhibitions, programs and performances.


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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