Westfield Cultural Council sets deadline for funding proposals

WESTFIELD-Even though the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined or transformed a variety of cultural events throughout the city this year, members of the Westfield Cultural Council are encouraging organizations, schools and individuals to apply for grants for 2021.

A deadline of Dec. 14 has been set to apply for funding that would support community oriented arts, humanities and science programs in the city.

The Westfield Cultural Council is part of a network of Local Cultural Councils serving 351 towns and cities across the state. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community.

“For 2020 we had allocated $30,000 to support projects including Pumpkinfest, Articulture, public art and programs at the Westfield schools, and the Westfield Athenaeum,” said Becky Blackburn, council chair.

Blackburn is joined on the all-volunteer council by Patricia Conant, Steve Henderson, Rissa Larsen, Margaret McLennan, Candy Pennington, Holly Robbins, Sarah Scott, Linda Slozak, Patricia Steele-Perkins and Wayne Weatherwax.

“We don’t know how much money we will have this year from the state but we hope to know soon,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn noted the 2020 grantees who have postponed projects or programs due to COVID-19 into 2021 are still encouraged to apply for funding in 2021.

“These grants can support a variety of artistic projects and activities in Westfield, including exhibits, festivals, field trips, short-term artist residencies, or performances in schools, workshops and lectures,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn added that because of the COVID-19 situation, funding schedules are off about a month.

“Usually we would be announcing allocations in January but we expect that will now happen in February,” she said.

Blackburn noted council members were encouraged when the Mass Cultural Council also gave them flexibility when determining awards.

“We had a lot of programs and projects that had to be put on hold, postponed or the format was changed to accommodate COVID, so luckily we were able to be flexible for the participants,” said Blackburn, noting some projects were converted to an online format this year.

Blackburn said when council members review proposals they are hopeful they can at least fund a portion of the project.

“We do tend to get most applications that are larger in scope, however, we also encourage individuals, no matter what their audience size, to apply,” said Blackburn. “We don’t necessarily completely fund a project. Our priority is to provide money to artists no matter what their audience size.”

Blackburn said as a reminder to applicants, all events must be conducted in Westfield.

“The Westfield Cultural Council is a group of people who are excited to help artists in the community,” she said.

For local guidelines and complete information on the Westfield Cultural Council, contact Blackburn at [email protected].

Application forms and more details about the Local Cultural Council Program are available at www.mass-culture.org.

For specific information about pandemic-related considerations on cultural events, visit https://massculturalcouncil.org/covid-19-resources.

On a related note, the Mass Cultural Council notes on its website that the pandemic has financially devastated cultural nonprofits and “played havoc” with the personal incomes of creative individuals. In July, the council reported cultural nonprofits had lost $425 million in revenue and that one-in-four sector jobs – more than 17,000 employees – had been affected by COVID-19.

The Mass Cultural Council’s goal, according to its website, is to assist legislators on understanding the cultural sector’s needs, especially now in light of the COVID-19 impact, during periodic surveys. Nonprofit leaders are encouraged to check the website often to participate in surveys that will provide crucial information on one’s organization.

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