Arts remain focus of District centerpiece
On February 2, 2023, The University of Tulsa leadership announced the acquisition of MAYFEST and the Hardesty Arts Building located at 101 East Archer Street in downtown Tulsa. This purchase ensures the original anchor property for the Tulsa Arts District remains as a centerpiece of the community’s arts scene. The sale of the building allows the Arts and Humanities Council (ahha) to emerge financially whole as an independent 501c3 and Tulsa MAYFEST to continue in 2023 as a program of TU.
“I am thrilled The University of Tulsa is in a position to intervene and bring stability to the Tulsa Arts District through this purchase,” said university President Brad R. Carson. “This truly is a win-win. TU demonstrates, yet again, our commitment to the arts and humanities. The Arts and Humanities Council is on a firm footing going forward, while TU maintains a significant presence at the intersection of Greenwood, the Arts District, and downtown Tulsa.
“The University of Tulsa wants to be a foundation upon which the Tulsa arts community can grow. We envision this building to be the epicenter of the arts and humanities community and we will use it as a community resource.”
Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum transferred the land lease to The University of Tulsa in support of the sale.
“For over a century, The University of Tulsa has helped shape our City’s growth and prosperity. Today is yet another milestone moment in our storied history together,” Mayor Bynum said. “The arts and humanities in Tulsa are an important part of our history, and I want to thank President Carson and the TU Board of Trustees for this valuable investment to ensure Tulsa retains a critical anchor in our thriving and growing arts district.”
Designed by Selser Schaefer Architects for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, the building opened on December 16, 2012, at the northeast corner of East Archer Street and North Boston Avenue in the then emerging Tulsa Arts District. For nearly ten years, the Hardesty Arts Building served as a community centerpiece for the arts until the organization closed its doors on November 4, 2022.
Through this purchase, The University of Tulsa gives the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa a firm financial footing, an office space within the building from which they can rebuild their organization. The University of Tulsa assumes control of Tulsa Mayfest, which ensures the beloved arts festival continues for its 50th anniversary event May 12-14, 2023.
“We are proud to work with The University of Tulsa to ensure the building and Mayfest continue its commitment to art in Tulsa and the region,” said Mendi Dunn, president of the Arts & Humanities Council. “As a proud arts organization, we look forward to a bright new future for arts in the community in the Tulsa Arts District as we continue to keep Tulsa creative.”
With the purchase now complete, TU will begin moving the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, led by Sean Latham, the Pauline McFarlin Walter Endowed Professor of English and Comparative Literature and director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities (OCH) and Switchyard, into 101 East Archer Street this week, as well as the great work of bringing the 50th Tulsa Mayfest to life in 100 short days. Additional uses for the space have yet to be defined.
“With this purchase and TU firmly set in the heart of Tulsa, we can now begin the great work of involving the community to create the most inclusive and engaging art space in America,” said Carson.