What’s new at Oklahoma Contemporary: Public Programming
From our new 53,916-square-foot building to a plethora of expanded education offerings and public programs, it can be hard to keep track of the many exciting changes coming to Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center in 2020. That’s why we’re interviewing staff members from all areas of our organization for a feature we’re calling #ThursdayThree — a Q&A series that will bring you inside the changes soon coming to NW 11th and Broadway.
This week we’re chatting with Christina Beatty, manager of public programs and community engagement. She’s here to tell you all about Oklahoma Contemporary’s expanded offerings, from artist talks to extended hours, family-focused programming and a whole lot more.
What is your role at Oklahoma Contemporary?
I’m the manager of public programs and community engagement. My job is to help plan, execute and evaluate public programming that helps visitors interpret the works on view in the exhibitions. A big part of that is about facilitating community around Oklahoma Contemporary with creative and participatory public programs and experiences for visitors of all ages.
In the community engagement role, my goal is to help as many people as possible see and understand Oklahoma Contemporary as a resource and a place where they belong. Contemporary art in particular presents an opportunity for us to think differently, to have conversations that might be difficult to have in other spaces. It’s an opportunity to help young people in particular realize there are career options they maybe didn't see or understand before.
What can you tell readers about the new Thursday Night Late program?
We’re going to be open an extra three hours every single Thursday evening. Generally the building is open until 6 p.m., but on Thursdays, we’ll be open until 9. We’re planning artist talks, gallery talks and several performances. We’ll craft Contemporary Cocktails approximately once a month. Some nights we’ll have DJs in the studio. There’ll be a studio activity every week, because we want folks to have the opportunity to be creative and hands-on and express themselves in one way or another.
We’re really just trying to make it as interesting as possible. We want it to be an alternative to your traditional entertainment for a Thursday evening.
"My goal is to help as many people as possible see and understand Oklahoma Contemporary as a resource and a place where they belong."
What other big changes excite you?
There's more of everything! We’re doing a lot of programming and also considering multiple exhibition spaces. For instance, as we open and help folks interpret both Bright Golden Haze and Shadow on the Glare, we're thinking about what's happening on both floors. So we’re looking at programming to tie into everything else is going on.
The third-floor exhibition, Shadow on the Glare, is primarily video and photo works. So we’re tying in some exciting things and really blowing out the month of May, because it's National Photography Month. Abelardo Morrell will come to give a talk in May, which is a great connection because of his work Camera Obscura. We’ll also have Gallery Talks from our Shadow on the Glare artists.
The expansion of Second Saturday is something else we’re excited about. Each month, we’ll have free community- and family-focused programming for visitors of all ages. In May, we’re working with a great company called Pneuhaus, who will bring in an inflatable compound camera and folks can actually participate in that the week before Abelardo Morrell’s talk.
Education has always been at the forefront of Oklahoma Contemporary, but we’ve typically done a lot for elementary and middle school-aged children and then adults. We now have an Early Childhood Studio as well as Teen Programs to really fill in those ends of the childhood spectrum and are both continuing and expanding offerings for adults.
I'm looking forward to the conversations and learning opportunities that come out of these programs. It's just such an exciting time to be here at Oklahoma Contemporary!
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