Local arts organizations putting NEA grants into action

Educational workshops such as the Westcott House's design hub will be financed along with programs for youth as part of National Endowment for the Arts grants worth $20,000 that Westcott House and the Springfield Museum of Art were awarded out of more than $1 million total given to 45 Ohio arts organizations. Contributed photo

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Educational workshops such as the Westcott House's design hub will be financed along with programs for youth as part of National Endowment for the Arts grants worth $20,000 that Westcott House and the Springfield Museum of Art were awarded out of more than $1 million total given to 45 Ohio arts organizations. Contributed photo

Two Springfield organizations will use National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants to devote to programs for the local community and to hopefully attract visitors from beyond it.

The Westcott House and Springfield Museum of Art (SMOA) were awarded $20,000 each. They were part of 45 total grants presented to Ohio organizations, totaling $1,065,000.

Executive directors Marta Wojcik of the Westcott House and Jessimi Jones of SMOA have already designated projects the funds will go toward.

“We’re really excited. This is the first time we’ve gotten an NEA grant in years,” said Jones. “This is one of the more competitive grants and we feel honored for to be able to do a worthy project with it.”

SMOA will use its grant for an exhibition called “Mirror, Mirror” that will focus on contemporary female artists and issues of identity, and tie several side programs to it during its October launch.

Westcott House will devote its funds to do a variety of workshops and educational programming. Wojcik said although the Westcott House is a cultural tourism destination, the organization also works as an educational and community resource.

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“Our dilemma is how do we do virtual outreach and education and this grant will support that,” she said. “There are a variety of activities we’re working on.”

Using its solar house center as a meeting place, workshops will be aimed at adults and youth. Programs will include a Multimedia Design Studio with physical and digital media; Architecture at Play with Froebel Gift and Architecture LEGO sets; Memories of Lived Spaces, creating sculptures and designing spaces; Architectural Photography; and professional development opportunities for teachers.

Westcott House has received the NEA grant previously and also earned an MLS grant from the American Rescue Plan and National Endowment for Humanities for $50,000 each. Wojcik said these will help engage in organizational capacity building in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, and fund popular educational programs such as Westcott Lecture Series, Summer Tour Series and virtual programs interpreting Westcott and other significant landmarks in our community.

Though Westcott House is smaller than a lot of organizations it competes with, Wojcik has been able to secure grants by showing the many ways it serves as a community resource for education and programming beyond being a historic tourist attraction.

SMOA and Westcott House are always eager to work with other Springfield arts organizations and will continue to. Westcott sponsored one of the multimedia light shows and SMOA had its first holiday event tying into Holiday in the City.

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SMOA will work with organizations including Project Jericho on a “Mirror, Mirror” side event and Westcott used some of its other grant funding to support public art projects such as the recent mural added to the side of a building in downtown Springfield.

“We try to work with various organizations and glad we can be part of that bigger community effort,” Wojcik said.

SMOA and Westcott House also struggle with identity issues, of people thinking they’ve been to their sights once they’ve seen everything, but both maintain with various programs and exhibitions, it allows for other opportunities and they are trying to break down the barriers as an added challenge.

While $20,000 may not seem like a lot to help, Jones said it was worth the 22-pages, letters of support and specific details for the prestige of an NEA grant.

“This exhibition will be about identity and how gender affects aspects of our lives and we’ll have a lot of other things to dive into a variety of prospects of being female artists like an artist in residence and other things,” Jones said.

She and Wojcik want the public to keep their eyes on what their organizations are doing this year.

“We have so many ideas, we’re really excited for 2022. There are so many great people to pitch in to make Springfield what it can be,” said Wojcik.

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