Oklahoma City-based artists are invited to submit an application to be considered for participation in the Artist Entrepreneur Program. This program is open to underrepresented creatives with artistic businesses in the fields of visual arts, music, dance, theater, and film/cinematography. Over the course of 10 weeks, participants will learn about topics such as business plans, legal compliance, accounting, marketing, grant writing, and more. The program will culminate with a networking event where artists will pitch their business plans to the broader business entrepreneurial community. Participants who successfully complete the program will be eligible to apply for a $5,000 grant to implement their creative business plan.


Components include:

  • Artwork Portfolio Samples

  • Narrative Responses

  • Resume or CV

  • Proof of Business Operations (Contracts, Articles of Incorporation, Tax Returns, etc.)

  • Proof of Eligibility Qualifications


April 23: Applications open

June 7: Open Office Hours via Zoom

  • 12PM–12:30PM

June 10: Open Office Hours via Zoom

June 11: Open Office Hours via Zoom

June 11: Application Deadline at 11:59PM

June 12–July 5: Applicant Screening

July 19: Applicants Notified

September 3–November 5: Course Sessions (10 Weeks)

  • Tuesday Nights, 5:30-9:00PM. Course Content 6:00 - 8:30PM, with networking before and after)

November 5: Pitch Night & Celebration


To qualify for project funding and participation in the program, applicants must meet ALL of the following criteria:

1) Be a practicing artist established at a physical location within Oklahoma City limits in any of the following disciplines or artistic genres since March 3, 2021*:

  • Visual Art (including, but not limited to 2D, 3D, textile, photography, etc.)
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • Film/Cinematography
2) Maintain a for-profit business registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State and demonstrate records of business operations. (Examples include contracts, articles of incorporation, tax returns, business licenses, business insurance, partnerships, evidence of completed work/projects, and income statements).

3) Meets at least ONE of the following (A, B, or C):

A. Minority-owned business (for the purposes of the AEP program minority-owned is defined by race/ethnicity)
B. Operating in Qualified Census Tracts (QCT)**
C. Demonstration of negative impact due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, as defined and determined by the City of Oklahoma and the ARPA Program, since March 2021. ***

The business must be operating within Oklahoma City limits. To determine that, applicants must be able to demonstrate where normal business operations occur. P.O. Boxes or mail service location cannot be used to determine the physical location of a business. Businesses operating out of a co-working space as a place of business must have that business listed on their W9 as their
official place of business and a lease or contract with said co-working space that began on or before March 3, 2021.

** The Primary place of business will be utilized to determine if the business is operating within a Qualified Census Tract (QCT). Businesses must be located within the QCT by March 3, 2021, in order to qualify for the programs under QCT eligibility.

*** OVAC will work with The Alliance and The City of Oklahoma City to finalize an applicant’s financial circumstance to meet program eligibility.  Evidence can include cancellation of contracts, jobs, lay-offs, or other negative consequences related to your creative business.

What is the AEP?
The Artist Entrepreneur Program is a 10-week accelerator designed to equip under-resourced and under-represented artists in Oklahoma City with the skills and knowledge to create and enhance strategic business plans for their artistic ventures. The program connects participants to a network of mentors, business owners, and entrepreneurs, culminating in an opportunity to pitch their business plans and apply for a $5,000 micro-grant after successfully completing the program.

Who is behind AEP?
AEP is hosted by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) in partnership with The Alliance and Oklahoma Arts Management Solutions. The program leverages the expertise of professional business owners and arts industry specialists to provide mentorship and guidance to participating artists.

Who should apply to AEP?
The program is designed for practicing artists in Oklahoma City across various disciplines, including visual arts, music, dance, theater, and film. Applicants should be artists who have demonstrated business operations and are either minority-owned, located in Qualified Census Tracts, or have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can I apply for AEP?
Applicants can submit their applications through the online platform Submittable. Detailed instructions and the link to apply are available on the OVAC’s website dedicated to the Artist Entrepreneur Program. Make sure to prepare all required documents and information as outlined in the application guidelines. Apply here!

What happens after I submit my application?
Once applications are submitted, they undergo a review process by a selection panel that includes program leadership, staff mentors, entrepreneurs, and business specialists. Applicants are scored based on various criteria, and the top scorers will be pre-selected for potential participation. Final acceptance notifications will be sent by mid-July, and selected participants must confirm their attendance within ten business days.

What are the goals and anticipated outcomes of AEP?
AEP aims to provide comprehensive business education to artists, enhancing their business acumen and organizational skills. Anticipated outcomes include improved business strategies, increased financial sustainability, and greater engagement with the arts community.

What does the curriculum include?
The curriculum covers a range of topics essential for arts entrepreneurship, such as business planning, marketing, fundraising, legal aspects, financial management, and pitch development. Participants will engage in lectures, hands-on activities, group discussions, and mentoring and networking sessions.

Are there topics in the curriculum to help me improve my fundraising and grant writing skills?
Yes! These specific components of the currciulum will focus on diversifying revenue (including grant writing and proposals for investors) as well as how to find grant opportunities for your specific needs/goals.

How can participants benefit from the $5,000 grant?
Eligible participants who successfully complete their business proposals may apply for a $5,000 micro-grant from The Alliance. This grant supports the implementation of business plans developed during the program, covering expenses like marketing, equipment, and other operational costs.

If I am an OVAC grant recipient, can I still participate?
Yes! You can still participate and be eligible to apply for the $5,000 grant.

What is the commitment required for AEP?
Participants must commit to weekly in-person sessions at The Verge, totaling approximately 3.5 hours per week, over the course of 10 weeks. The program includes additional activities such as mentoring sessions, tours of art spaces, and the final pitch night.

How are participants selected?
Applications are reviewed by a panel using a detailed rubric that assesses artistic background, business needs, commitment to the program, and other criteria. The selection process is competitive, aiming to identify artists who will most benefit from and contribute to the program.

What networking opportunities does AEP offer?
The program concludes with a pitch night where artists present their business plans to the local entrepreneurial and arts community, offering a platform for feedback and potential funding. Ongoing mentorship and peer interactions throughout the program also foster valuable professional connections.

Where and when does the program take place?
The program sessions are held in the evenings at The Verge in Oklahoma City, running from September 3 - November 5. The exact schedule and deadlines for applications can be found on OVAC’s AEP webpage.

How do I know if I am operating within Oklahoma City Limits?
Check your address on this map.

How do I demonstrate business operations?
Proof of business operations can include items such as signed contracts, articles of incorporation, tax returns, business licenses, business insurance, letters of reference, pay stubs, income statements, and/or evidence of completed work/projects/partnerships/volunteerism/pro bono work.

What if I am not a registered business?
If you are not currently a registered business with the Oklahoma Secretary of State you will need to do so prior to July 1, 2024 at to be eligible to participate in AEP. Additionally,the Oklahoma SBDC offers free consulting services. To utilize their services visit and click on “Request Advising.” As long as your business is registered prior to July 1, 2024, you meet this eligibility requirement.

What qualifies my business as Minority-Owned?
For the purposes of the AEP program, minority-owned is defined by race/ethnicity.

What is a Qualified Census Tract (QCT)?
A Qualified Census Tract (QCT) is a geographic area designated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that has either a poverty rate of at least 20% or a median family income that does not exceed 80% of the area's median income. If you are applying under this criteria, refer to the provided map to determine if your business address is within one of the census tract locations.

How do I qualify under the Negative Economic Impact criteria?
Evidence can include cancellation of contracts, jobs, lay-offs, or other negative consequences related to your creative business.

Questions? Reach out to


Selected applicants will be announced July, 2024



Phone: (405)879-2400

Office Hours: Monday–Thursday, 9AM–5PM


Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

1720 N. Shartel Ave. Suite B.

Oklahoma City, OK 73103

© 2024 Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. All rights reserved. Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. EIN: 73-1328072.

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