Springfield’s Westcott House awarded prestigious grant

Springfield’s Westcott House for Architecture + Design has been awarded a national grant that only 14 percent of applicants that tried for it received.

The CARES Act, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will give the Westcott House $59,047 to help retain staff, sustain payroll and to develop new public programming.

Given the lack of income many museums and arts attractions have suffered due to the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition for such grants has been fierce, and Westcott House executive director Marta Wojcik said having it is a great relief as the organization has seen only about 40 percent of the business it does in a typical summer.

“This tells you how much need there is and we’re very glad it got the message across. This grant will affect us tremendously for the next year,” she said.

The NEH awarded $40.3 million total in grants to 317 organizations nationwide and in the District of Columbia, including nine Ohio organizations such as The Ohio State University and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

There were 2,300 applicants that applied. While excited to have the funds, Wojcik was also sympathetic for other arts colleagues who didn’t qualify.

As applicants had to complete a comprehensive application to be considered, she said the Westcott House isn’t just a tourist attraction and legacy of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, but by also an organization devoted to architecture and design education, and that likely worked in its favor.

Wojcik also said it helps Springfield stand out among so many larger cities and institutions with bigger budgets and facilities. The Westcott House has an annual operating budget of about $500,000 and has two full-time employees and four part-timers.

“We always look for inspiration, to make a bigger impact and Springfield is a great spot for this,” she said.

Since the pandemic, the Westcott House has responded with a variety of virtual programming including webinars and is currently sponsoring a Virtual Tour Series version of its annual outdoor summer exploration of area architecture.

Wojcik envisions using some of the grant funds to develop new programming and will engage with artists and humanities scholars to develop an online lecture series, virtual book club and virtual field trips for schools over the coming months.

“The Westcott House is unique for the state. We want to reach out to others so people all over Ohio can explore it,” she said.

The Westcott House is open for tours by appointment. For more information, visit its social media sites.

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