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Editorial: Tulsa arts garner international attention during difficult time for the industry

Editorial: Tulsa arts garner international attention during difficult time for the industry

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Greenwood Rising Opens

An area dedicated to the systems of anti-Blackness in America is among the displays at the Greenwood Rising history center.

Editor's Note: An error regarding a holiday special appeared in the original version. It has been corrected.

A tough couple of years brought on by a pandemic hasn’t stopped Tulsa from getting global buzz for its arts.

Just last month, The Economist highlighted the Bob Dylan Center as one of the world’s most “noteworthy museums” to open next year. Also mentioned were the Museum of Broadway in New York City and a new national museum in Oslo, Norway.

The Bob Dylan Center opens May 10 in the downtown Tulsa Arts District with more than 100,000 artifacts related to the Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter. The collection will include unreleased recordings, notebooks, letters, artwork and other manuscripts.

Greenwood Rising is among 20 nominees in USA Today’s Best New Attraction competition. The Gathering Place won in 2019.

Opened since August near Archer Street and Greenwood Avenue, it hosts about 1,000 visitors a week from across the country. The legacy project of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission tells the history of the massacre and provides a broader view of what came before and after and future possibilities.

Earlier this year, the “Project Hope Unity Compassion,” a public art project created by the Tulsa Downtown Partnership, received the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence from the International Downtown Association.

The BOK Center has been nominated for Arena of the Year by Pollstar Magazine for the ninth time in the venue’s history. Other nominees are New York City’s Madison Square Garden, Los Angeles’ Arena, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and The Forum in Inglewood, California.

The Church Studio District and the Tulsa Office for Film, Music, Arts & Culture were nominated in the 2021 Music Cities Awards, which acknowledge outstanding applications of music for economic, social and cultural development around the world.

The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra thought creatively for a performance at ONEOK Field, becoming the first U.S. performance by a professional orchestra in front of a live audience since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. It also created its first ever TV special for the holidays.

The Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College also performed at ONEOK Field, a couple of weeks after the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

The Tulsa Opera and Tulsa Ballet were among the first companies of their kind in the nation to perform to live audiences after pandemic restrictions were lifted. The opera performed at ONEOK Field, and the ballet implemented social distance restrictions at its Studio K theater.

Tulsa-based artists are gaining attention, as well.

Joy Harjo — musician, playwright, author and performer — accepted a third term as the U.S. Poet Laureate, becoming only the second laureate to receive this extension since the terms of service were established in 1943. She is the first Indigenous poet laureate, a member of the Muscogee Nation.

Tulsa resident Derek Penix was named as the country’s top artist by Fine Art Connoisseur magazine’s Fine Arts Today newsletter. It was based on 12 years worth of research on winners of major national arts competitions.

Tulsa filmmaker Sterlin Harjo created one of the best television series of the year with Oklahoma-shot “Reservation Dogs” for FX on Hulu. It was a uniquely Oklahoma story that brought attention to Indigenous culture. Harjo was a featured presenter at the Emmy Awards with the cast.

These are just a sampling of the thriving Tulsa arts scene.

Earning these recognitions holds even greater significance considering the difficulties facing this sector since the pandemic began. Many venues shuttered, and artists were out of work.

It’s a testament to the patrons and creative people who continued against the odds to keep Tulsa’s arts vibrant.

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"Tulsa appears to be getting a handle on evictions, with the trend going down and more than 6,700 families receiving help in the past year. With the city ranking No. 11 in the nation for its eviction rate just two years ago, this is welcomed news." the editorial states.

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