Springfield, Champaign arts groups to receive nearly $350K in CARES Act funds

Credit: Brett Turner

Credit: Brett Turner

Arts groups in Springfield and Champaign County will share about $350,000 in Ohio Arts Council CARES Act Economic Relief for the Arts awards.

The Springfield Arts Council , the Westcott House, Springfield Symphony Orchestra , Springfield Museum of Art and Champaign County Arts Council are among the 296 state-wide programs to receive economic relief funds totaling $20 million, it was announced on Nov. 19.

The share for local arts groups is $349,200.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited what most organizations can present or do, so the funds are welcomed by the local organizations’ executive directors.

“Along with our fellow arts organizations, this is great news for us,” said Tim Rowe executive director of the Springfield Arts Council. “Obviously, we’re grateful to the Ohio Arts Council and federal and state resources. This enables us to protect expenses we haven’t had income for.”

The Springfield Arts Council and the Springfield Symphony previously received Payroll Protection Act funds, which only covered about two months of expenses.

Rowe said the $112,300 the Springfield Arts Council will receive will go toward salaries, rent and utilities, but also ticket refunds for shows that were canceled and even Summer Arts Festival expenses, even though the series was canceled. Not having income from the festival meant a major loss of income, and Rowe also had to reduce staff.

“This won’t cover all our losses, but a good portion of those losses, which is why this is a ray of light amid our day to day operations,” he said.

The Payroll Protection Act and Ohio Arts Council awards are what’s keeping the Springfield Symphony going, executive director Lou Ross said. It will receive $72,600 from the Ohio Arts Council.

In addition to paying staff and musicians along with rent, the Springfield Symphony also had to purchase safety protocol items including partitions for the adult and youth musicians for rehearsals and shows. Having lived in several other states, Ross is appreciative of Ohio’s support for the arts.

“It’s amazing how these two programs are saving us,” said Ross. “I’m proud to be a part of this state and for the support of the legislature for the arts.”

The Springfield Museum of Art received $61,200, Westcott House $88,800 and Champaign County Arts Council $15,100, which the directors said would go toward salaries and operating expenses. Springfield Museum of Art and Westcott House previously received other relief awards.

The funding is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by congress in March.

“We are deeply thankful to the Ohio Arts Council, Gov. DeWine and the legislators of the Ohio General Assembly,” said Jessimi Jones of the Springfield Museum of Art.

Westcott House relies heavily on tourism from outside the county for income, which the pandemic has curbed signigicantly. It has again closed to the public as of Nov. 22 as has the Springield Museum of Art.

“It’s a powerful signal that Ohio places the arts at the center of our economic recovery efforts,” Westcott House Executive Dirctor & Curator Marta Wojcik said. “In addition to the government support, we are grateful for the ongoing support from our community.”

As the pandemic continues and some venues close and events are canceled or moved, the arts organizations are still working on future programs.

The Springfield Symphony is planning a holiday jazz concert; plans are being finalized with details to come. SAC is working on an admission-free series for early in the new year and looking at how to present the Summer Arts Festival.

Although closed for tours, the Westcott House continues its ongoing series of virtual programs including one on Nov. 24, and has an online store available for holiday shopping.

The Champaign County Arts Council doesn’t have any solid plans but executive director Marcia Callicoat is waiting to see how things turn out, hoping to do its biggest annual fundraiser Bad Art by Good People in the spring. During the pandemic, the organization has reached into the community to provide area nursing homes with art kits and instruments.

Facts & Figures

5: Number of local groups receiving funding from Ohio Arts Council

$112,300: Largest local award going to Springfield Arts Council

$15,000: Smallest local award going to Champaign Arts Council

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