Around Town

Cultural Council gears up for grant cycle

WESTFIELD-The Westfield Cultural Council’s next grant cycle opens Sept. 1 and local organizations involved in cultural activities are encouraged to apply online.

“In 2018, we received 42 applications, which was fairly normal,” said Morgan Drewniany, chair of the Westfield Cultural Council. “Out of those 42, we awarded money, some in full and some partial, to 29 projects.”

Drewniany, who has been involved with the cultural council since 2016, originally learned about the department when she was serving as a board member of Westfield on Weekends.

“I thought my skill set as a former arts nonprofit executive director, as well as my young age, would benefit the council,” said Drewniany. “It has turned out to be great – a real opportunity to reach individuals and artists I wouldn’t have worked with otherwise.”

Drewniany noted that Westfield Cultural Council funds are allocated from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

“Annually, based on their congressional allocation at the state level, they assess the amount of money each participating municipality is awarded based upon population and income level, among a host of things,” said Drewniany. “We get an allocation prior to the grant application deadline in October.”

Drewniany said Westfield Cultural Council members do not know “officially” how much money they will have to distribute during the next grant cycle.

“I anticipate it will be similar to our 2018 allocation of $23,600,” she said.

During the summer, Drewniany noted the council members will be conducting “visibility/activities” at the Westfield Farmers’ Market and Music Fest to survey the public on arts and cultural programs or services that are considered “of most value” to the community.

“Every other year, we do a community survey to assess what the general public is looking for in the realm of arts and culture in town, which then informs our preferences when it comes to grant time,” said Drewniany, adding an online survey will be available “shortly,” posted on the City of Westfield website as well as on Facebook.

“We also have many grant-supported activities this summer which are not hosted by the Westfield Cultural Council but are put on by grantees, including, but not limited to, summer reading activities, Art Walks, Music Fest, music at the Westfield Farmers’ Market, and more,” she said.

Organizations interested in learning more about grant opportunities, as well as requirements and restrictions, can visit The grant cycle runs from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, and all applications must be submitted online.

In related news, Drewniany said a meeting took place recently with the new representative from the Massachusetts Cultural Council who introduced the “possibility” of moving toward a non-reimbursement based grant process.

“This would allow grantees to receive their grant money in the beginning of the year rather than reimbursement based, which would create a much better system for artists or individuals who can’t afford to front their own money to put on events and such,” said Drewniany. “If it is passed, grantees will see this once the application opens in early September and consider it as part of their application.”

Westfield Cultural Council meetings are conducted on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Room 315 at City Hall. The next scheduled meeting is Sept. 10.

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