New Oklahoma Arts Council executive director starts first week of job

Baker was chosen for her innovation within the organization, and her commitment to furthering innovation in the future with new ideas and new programs.

She has worked at the Council for 18 years, and takes over for Suzanne Tate, the retiring director.

The organization is centered on issuing grants to local art groups. To expand the organization’s involved in the community, Baker created the Leadership Arts professional development program, which trains artists, civic leaders and city planners how to use art to enhance their communities.

“Whether you’re in economic development, or you’re looking at education or education reform or you’re looking at quality-of-life issues, we want this agency to be out there showing how the arts serve the public,” Baker said.

Kym Koch Thompson, council chair, said she voted for Baker for the position because she already knows how the organization runs.

“I think that’s probably one of the biggest advantages, is knowledge of, not only the organization, but also the agencies we serve and this state and how we do things,” Thompson said.

During her time as deputy director, Baker helped the council through a 21-percent budget reduction, but she sees no drastic changes in the immediate future.

“What we will do, is continue to build on what we’re already accomplishing,” Baker said.

Carmen Forman

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