On March 20, Celeste Adams, CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, emailed staff and volunteers to announce that, due to the coronavirus-forced-closings of its tours and buildings, the Trust was forced to temporarily reduce staff and cut hours for remaining staff. The Trust also moved its annual spring housewalk, Wright Plus from May 16 to June 27 in response to the pandemic.
Adams says the March 17 forced closure of the Trust sites – the Home and Studio, the Frederick C. Robie House, the Emil Bach House, Unity Temple, and the Rookery – made it necessary to drastically reduce the hours of the majority of staff and also furlough some of the Trust’s employees.
“Like all not-for-profits, the Trust operates on a narrow margin,” said Adams. “For the Trust, tourism season is mid-March through October. The largest amount of revenue comes in during that time frame. A closure that comes in March comes at a low point with our internal resources.”
Adams says she hopes the Trust will be able to re-open sites, rebound and welcome back employees with open arms. She points out the crisis for the Trust is the same crisis felt by all small businesses and not-for-profits and praises the Trust’s workforce and volunteers for their dedication.
She adds, “We feel confident we will survive. We are doing everything to secure the funding we need to weather this difficult interim period. We have donors at the Trust who have given loyally for years, and at this moment, we feel this love.”
Adams posted a letter on the Trust’s website, www.flwright.org, asking for donor support during this period, and says she and others at the Trust continue to look at every resource to evaluate the current situation and project how the organization can remain healthy going forward.
As a part of the effort, Wright Plus, now in its 46th year, has been pushed back to June 27. Adams said Wright Plus has never been cancelled, and that this is the first year the Trust has had to deal with a national emergency in planning for the walk.
“We have sold over half of our tickets, and we notified all of the ticket holders about the change in date. We notified the homeowners first, and all were happy to move the date. We’re in a national situation that’s evolving daily. We feel such gratitude to the homeowners, the ticket holders and the volunteers. We are all in this together.”
Due to the uncertainty, Adams says the Trust is shifting marketing of the walk to the surrounding region, and notes that over 50 percent of attendees usually hail from Illinois. She also stresses the importance of the event to the architecture and cultural community. “Yes, the walk brings in money, but it’s primarily a learning experience. We’re in the place where architecture was born. It’s a place unlike any other. Welcoming visitors here and giving them a valuable learning experience is what this is all about.”