About OAI

The Oklahoma Arts Institute, a vision of then-Governor David Boren, was founded in response to concerned parents voicing the need for quality arts education for Oklahoma's artistically talented young people. In 1977, organizers launched a three-day pilot program that provided 100 Oklahoma high school students with intensive arts training in five disciplines. Directed by Mary Frates, the firstOklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Camp Egan near Tahlequah was a resounding success.

In 1978, the Summer Institute was expanded to a two-week program, serving 200 students studying acting, ballet, choral music, drawing/painting, modern dance, orchestral music, photography, poetry, and sculpture with renowned artists. The program was relocated to Quartz Mountain State Park, the permanent home of Institute programs.

In response to popular demand from Oklahoma teachers, the Oklahoma Arts Institute created the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute in 1983. The series of four-day weekend workshops for adults offers training with nationally-renowned artists in the literary, visual, and performing arts.

In 1991, the Oklahoma legislature passed a joint resolution designating the Oklahoma Arts Institute "Oklahoma's Official School of the Arts" and Quartz Mountain State Park as "Oklahoma's Arts and Conference Center." The same year, the Oklahoma State Department of Education began providing matching scholarships for students to attend the Summer Institute and for Oklahoma public school teachers to participate in the Fall Institute.

1995 was a challenging year for the Institute. A devastating fire destroyed the Quartz Mountain Lodge, the library, and some of the student artwork housed in the lodge. Despite the fire, Institute programs continued at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Tulsa.

The fire tragedy was nonetheless an opportunity to rebuild Quartz Mountain State Park as an arts and conference center. The Summer Institute returned to a new and improved Quartz Mountain in June of 2001. The new facility includes a 700-seat performance hall, a state-of-the-art darkroom and the Beverly Badger Memorial Library. The Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center is owned and operated by the State Regents for Higher Education.

Today, the Oklahoma Arts Institute continues to recruit high-caliber artists to teach the Summer and Fall Institutes. Maria Tallchief, Moses Hogan, Fritz Scholder, Samuel Adler, Leona Mitchell, and N. Scott Momaday are only a few of the artists who have participated in Institute programs. Alumniof Arts Institute programs, such as Megan Mullally and Tim Blake Nelson, enjoy successful careers and enrich the cultural landscape of Oklahoma and the nation.