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Southeast Oklahoma Students Receive World-Class Arts Instruction

Southeast Oklahoma Students Receive World-Class Arts Instruction

47th Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain concludes

Oklahoma City, Okla. — Eleven of the state’s most artistically advanced students from six schools in southeast Oklahoma attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain (OSAI) in June. OSAI is an intensive two-week residential school that provides professional training to Oklahoma high school students in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Among these students was athlete-turned-actor Carl McCortney from Ada.

McCortney grew up playing sports and was a member of the soccer, football, and track and field teams at Ada High School. However, after watching the school’s production of the musical Pippin, he was inspired to join theatre with a fellow teammate for a semester. Shortly after, he traded center field for center stage.

“By the end of the year, I just absolutely fell in love with it,” said McCortney. “The last week of school, I quit all my sports and went to my director and joined all the other classes I could. [Now] I’m in choir and speech and debate.”

Encouraged by his directors and peers, he decided to audition for OSAI—along with 800 other students from across Oklahoma—and was accepted.

“I absolutely love it here, like I never want to go home,” said McCortney, laughing. “This place is amazing. Everyone here is so talented.”

Each student spent six class hours a day studying with nationally renowned artist-educators. Acting Instructor Tatiana Pandiani, professor at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, and Voice Coach Andrea Ferro, TV & film coordinator for Goldenbird Films in Miami, instructed McCortney and others on a variety of drama pieces and musical numbers. Other notable faculty members included Jung-Ho Pak, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cape Symphony in Massachusetts and the Bay Philharmonic, and Deborah Dickson, three-time Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker.

In addition to studying their chosen discipline, students at OSAI have the opportunity to discover and explore new artistic mediums and to collaborate with students in other disciplines. This summer, the photography class worked with the acting students on how to shoot professional headshots.

“While this was more a commercial type of instruction than what we usually offer, it required that the students learn how to work with strobes,” said Ben Long, OSAI Digital Photography Technician. “Having 20 eager subjects to work with allowed the photography students to practice and drill strobe work in a very effective way, and allowed the actors to practice receiving direction and doing a simple form of acting for the camera.”

The cost of attendance for each student is valued at approximately $4,200. However, the Oklahoma Arts Institute seeks funding to ensure that all students attend tuition-free. This allowed over 240 students across the state to travel to Quartz Mountain for the experience of a lifetime. Applications for the 2024 Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute will open in December at

“Even if you are slightly interested in the arts, this is the place where you need to be. Everyone needs to try this. Everyone needs to come here,” McCortney concluded.

Scholarships for southeast Oklahoma students attending OSAI were made possible through funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, as well as the Clark and Wanda Bass Family Foundation Scholars Fund, Public Service Company of Oklahoma Scholars Fund, Puterbaugh Foundation, John Hoyle Carlock Jr. Family Trust Scholarship Fund, McCasland Foundation Scholars Fund, R. Duane Carter Memorial Scholarship Fund, Jasmine Moran Scholarship Fund, Caltex Petroleum Scholars Fund, and the David and Molly Boren Scholarship Fund. Additional program support is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Harris Foundation, OKC Midtown Rotary Club, Inasmuch Foundation, Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation. This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


A complete list of attending students as well as digital photographs can be found HERE. Contact information for students and faculty may be available upon request. Please contact Wren Pfahl at 405.605.7500 x305 or

About the Oklahoma Arts Institute
The Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts. Since 1977, the Oklahoma Arts Institute has recruited nationally renowned artists to teach a fine arts program for talented Oklahoma youth and a series of continuing education workshops for adults. All programs are held at the Quartz Mountain State Park & Lodge in Lone Wolf, Okla. For more information about OAI, please visit or OAIQuartz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

About the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute
The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute is an intensive, two-week academy in the literary, visual and performing arts for Oklahoma’s most advanced high school students. Students are selected through a competitive statewide audition process, and every accepted student automatically receives a scholarship to attend. The program’s multidisciplinary structure sets the Summer Arts Institute apart from other arts programs in the nation.

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