Wahzhazhe ballet awarded $25,000 grant from ON Foundation

The Osage Nation Foundation launched a matching grants program targeting artistic endeavors last month. The Foundation awarded its first grant to Wazhazhe – the Osage ballet program featured next month in Tulsa and Bartlesville.

The Foundation’s board of directors started the arts matching grants program,which provides opportunities for Osage artists and arts-focused organizations to promote the arts focusing on Osage and Native American cultures, according to a Foundation news release. Each qualifying organization is eligible to receive a matching grant up to $25,000.

In June, the foundation board approved its first grant of $25,000 for Wahzhazhe, which is described as a “contemporary ballet that brings together unique and diverse qualities of Oklahoma history and culture” with its emphasis on the Osage.

“This ballet will be an artistic expression of the lives of our ancestors that will help us to better understand what it is to be Osage,” Wahzhazhe ballet director Randy Tinker Smith said in a news release. “We have the opportunity to bring excellent art to these communities in the form of a compelling American story, told through dance at a time when inspiration might be just the remedy at such a challenging time in the state’s history.”

According to the Wahzhazhe ballet Web site, the production is an opportunity for young people to be involved in creating an artistic performance honoring their history and culture traditions. A minimum of 50 artists will work on a variety of tasks and youth will be provided training in costume and set construction, stage crew and dance.

Costumes will be made by local artists at the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center in Pawhuska, according to the Web site. Volunteers will learn about craftsmanship and social meanings that go into the color combinations and textile art forms that are unique to the Osage people. Professional mentors, being paired with college students, will provide rich opportunities to learn and gain experience in many aspects of art production.

Ballet rehearsals started this month in Bartlesville, the release stated. The ballet production’s Web site is at Show dates for Wahzhazhe are as follows:

- Aug. 3-4 in Tulsa at Holland Hall School, 5666 E. 81st St.

- Aug. 10-11 in Bartlesville at the Bartlesville Community Center, 300 S.E. Adams. Blvd.

The arts matching grant program comes about two months after the Foundation hosted a Tulsa golf tournament as its first major fundraising event. The program also comes while the Foundation’s inaugural summer youth camps are underway.

The ON Foundation is accepting matching grant applications from other organizations for their art endeavors. The deadline for matching grant applications is Sept. 1.

Foundation executive director Bill Webb describes the program as an “exciting step” for the nonprofit, which aims to provide charitable services to the Osage Nation and its citizens. “Over the past several months, we have received various requests for funding for worthy programs. But we simply didn’t have the dollars available to fund them. With this appropriation, we are able to now begin to bring significant funding to qualified projects,” he said in a news release.

According to the ON Foundation, the first priority of the arts matching grant program is to provide operation or program support to qualified arts organizations including theaters, symphonies, galleries, art guilds, choral societies, dance companies, writers groups and arts festivals, among others. The second priority is to support learning and arts in educational programs conducted by qualified artists. These can be artist residencies in schools, after school summer camps, or adult arts learning classes. The third priority is to community, civic and municipal organizations, which must be conducted by qualified artists.

Arts matching grant eligibility

The ON Foundation requires that matching grant applicants must be foundations, museums, businesses or organizations with a connection to an arts discipline. Individuals are not eligible to apply for the matching grant program.

Application forms may be downloaded from the ON Foundation’s Web site All projects must take place between Aug. 1, and July 31, 2013.

All applications must be received by the ON Foundation no later than Sept. 1. Applications can be faxed to (817) 796-1816, emailed to or a hard copy mailed to Osage Nation Foundation, P.O. Box 92777 Southlake, TX 76092.