The Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City is one of the largest, most successful and best organized festivals in the country. However, it didn’t always used to be that way and, like every Van Gogh, the story of how the Festival of the Arts came to be is a true masterpiece.
It all began in the mid-1960s with the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts, an endowment designed to provide funding for the arts across the country. Soon after, a group of representatives from art organizations in Oklahoma City jumped on the opportunity and established The Arts Council in 1967, with Marion DeVore serving as the first president.
The idea for the Festival of the Arts was ignited through a suggestion from Symphony General Manager Frank Ratka, who wanted to begin an arts festival to attract publicity and interest in the Arts Council. The date of the Festival was set in March, only three weeks away from the day of the meeting that approved it. Every board member participated in making the event a success, from asking local artists to participate to gathering fund lenders and even making sandwiches.