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April 04, 2018

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Harding Fine Arts Academy (HFAA) will present The John and Joy Reed Belt Award to Christian Keesee on April 10 at a dinner at 6 pm at The Petroleum Club. A native Oklahoman, Keesee is a banker, philanthropist, and an outstanding advocate for art and education. The award was initiated in 2013 by the HFAA Board to honor community leaders for their inspiring and dedicated support. The late John Belt founded Harding Fine Arts Academy in 2005.  He and his wife, Joy, have been and continue to be very active supporters of the arts in the community.

Keesee is the founder of Oklahoma Contemporary, a thriving arts center whose core mission is to encourage artistic expression in all its forms through education, exhibitions, and performance.  He is also founder of the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado.  In addition, he is a board member of the Tate Americas Foundation in London and The American Ballet Theatre in New York and serves on the education committee for the Oklahoma City Ballet. The Governor’s Arts Award was presented to him in 2012. Keesee is the son of the late Joan Kirkpatrick and the late Konrad Keesee.  Through his personal philanthropy and his family’s foundations, almost every educational and arts organization in Oklahoma has benefited from their generosity. He is President of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and Chairman of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Kirkpatrick Oil Company, and Kirkpatrick Bank, which has offices in Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Keesee has a son, Blake Keesee, and is married to Larry Keigwin.

“I am very grateful to the Harding Fine Arts Academy Board for recognizing me with the Leadership in Arts and Education Award,” said Keesee. “This award is especially meaningful to me as it was created to honor the Academy’s founder and staunchest supporter, the late John Belt, who I greatly admired for his increasing sustained academic programing for the arts. I wholeheartedly believe, just as John Belt did, that quality arts education is essential to provide a well-rounded education and should be available to all students in our community.”

Harding Fine Arts Academy is a tuition-free, nonprofit charter high school founded in 2005.  The school’s mission is to prepare students for college in an academically challenging arts integrated environment.  The school received the Governor’s Award in Arts and Education in 2016.  U.S. News and World Report ranks HFAA as one of the top schools in Oklahoma and it was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2015.  Four hundred students from across the metro attend the charter school.  Funds raised from the dinner will help HFAA purchase updated technology in order to expand the student’s critical learning opportunities that prepare students for college and career success.

 A lively evening is planned with James Pickel serving as emcee. The speaker will be Harding Fine Arts Academy alumnus Luke Wittman. HFAA alumna Carlie Presskit will perform ballet. Pianist Elena Figueroa will entertain as well as the student cast from Pippin. Patrons may support school student needs by donating to a variety of projects through “Pick Your Passion” teacher-posted projects. Donation opportunities towards these teacher projects in honor of Christian Keesee will be available at the event or online at: “Pick Your Passion” donors or interested sponsors can also call 405-702-6939.

Kirsten Hurley Lindsey and Carol McPheeters are Co-Chairmen.  Committee members include Kaye Adams, Kelley Barnes, Sally Bentley, Joy Reed Belt, Cynthia Chapline, Nancy Ellis, Susan Gabbard, Dee Harris, Kathy Rogers, Matt Schein, Bob Spinks, Alison Taylor and John Yoeckel.

“Christian Keesee embodies what the Leadership in Arts and Education Award is all about. Christian is busy with multiple businesses and philanthropic endeavors and he has had a positive impact on the arts scene locally, regionally, and nationally and we are thrilled to honor him with this award,” Kirsten said.

Reservations for the dinner are $125 and can be made by calling 405-702-6939 or 

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