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Letter to our Headwaters Music & Arts Community


To our Headwaters Music & Arts community,

At Headwaters Music & Arts (HMA), we believe that all people are amazingly unique, extraordinarily beautiful, and treasured as sacred. We value differences in age, cultural background, experience, education, ethnicity, family structure, gender, lifestyle, religious background, perspective, and other aspects that make us each who we are and recognize that without diversity, our world wouldn’t exist. Particularly the world of music and art! Imagine if every composer wrote the same song or every artist painted the same picture. How bleak and boring this world would be!

HMA has been working to ensure our processes, policies, and behavior uphold the values of equity and inclusion. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusions policy states:

To provide informed, authentic leadership for cultural equity, HMA strives to:

• See diversity, inclusion, and equity as critical to our mission and well-being of our staff and the people we serve.
• Acknowledge and dismantle any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services, and continually update and report organization progress.
• Explore potential underlying unquestioned assumptions that interfere with inclusiveness.
• Advocate for and support thinking about how systemic inequities impact our organization’s work and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission.
• Commit time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our board, staff, committee, and advisory bodies.
• Lead with respect and tolerance. We expect all board members, employees, and volunteers to embrace this notion and to express it in HMA interactions and through everyday practices.

HMA demonstrates its commitment to diversity through:

• Recruitment, retention, and inclusion strategies
• Employee training and professional development
• Financial assistance and volunteer time programs
• Program participant and community surveys
• Outreach events and performances
• Evaluating the HMA environment to ensure it is accessible for all

HMA is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all programs, activities, and interactions. We also welcome and invite you to share your ideas and talents to help us better serve our community. HMA has many exciting and important volunteer opportunities available, including leading our organization into a better future through board membership.

Thank you for your continued support of HMA, we appreciate you!

The Headwaters Board of Directors & Administrative Staff

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COVID-19 Response Update

These past several weeks, we have responded to the pandemic by suspending group activities, moving to virtual lessons, and performing administrative tasks from our homes. We thank you for sticking with us as we figure out how to fulfill our mission in previously unimagined ways.

On May 14, Gov. Tim Walz announced the plan to reopen non-essential businesses as early as May 18 as long as they follow health and safety guidelines. At Headwaters Music & Arts, we plan to have limited building hours starting June 1, typically 11 to 5 Monday through Thursday. Please call ahead to ensure someone is on hand to help you out. If you would like to purchase Schmitt music, accessories or instruments or perhaps sign up for lessons or for summer or fall programs, we look forward to seeing you!

What’s changed - It’s terribly important that we have steps in place that keep our staff, students and volunteers safe. We want to do things right. Our preparedness plan follows CDC and MDH guidelines, including having everyone who enters the building complete a health screening process, additional hand sanitizer stations, and several plexiglass barriers, face shields, gloves, and masks in place for lessons and classes. We will revise and update our procedures as needed.

What’s happening this summer - Along with reopening the building, we will hold a very limited number of in person music lessons in large performance spaces, and work on our plan for the fall. We have some great summer camp sessions starting in July. Fingers crossed that we will be able to hold them! Our Bemidji Sings! Vocal competition will still take place, but with a virtual August 6 final show. Details are on our website and on Facebook.

Then what? More change. We realize that we need to figure out new ways to provide opportunities for creativity through instruction and inspire the community through music and the arts, especially our group activities such as youth and adult pottery, art clubs, and community events. Please check back here to see the latest updates. What hasn’t changed? Our commitment to our community. Our determination to be there for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Thank you for being here for us.

Tricia Andrews, executive director
Headwaters Music & Arts Board of Directors


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Letter from the Director


These past weeks have been a time of uncertainty, adaptation, and change. Despite our best efforts, each day situations and questions arise that catch us off guard. Despite our worst fears, we see glimmers of light and possibility that give us hope and encouragement. Here is an update from this past few weeks: The First City Singers and First City Bell Choir are Headwaters programs. The volunteer organizers suspended their rehearsals and performances until further notice.

We cancelled our events and workshops, including the April 18 Monroe Crossing concert, the Dave Cofell concert, and the April CoffeeHouse Open-Mic night. At the same time, we initiated the option of holding one-on-one music lessons via online platforms such as Skype, Google Duo, or Facetime.

After Monday’s executive order, we closed the building to the public and moved to holding all music instruction through E-lessons. It has been a high learning curve for our instructors and for students and their families, requiring extra communication and cooperation to figure it all out. So far, about 20 of our 255 music students have withdrawn because they had to relocate due to the emergency, because they lack technology, or because they do not want to do lessons remotely. Our music program coordinator Jessica Westlund has worked super hard on this whole process. When my next note reports that we weathered this difficult time and are stronger and better for it, please remember that it will be largely due to Jessica’s attention to detail, her kindness, and her grit.

Until Monday evenings’ order, we thought we could still hold our after-school art clubs, pottery programs and chess program because each group was fairly small. However, on Tuesday we announced that these classes will not be held during the temporary closure.  Depending upon the length of the closure, Headwaters will either extend the programs into the spring or provide refunds. We will stay in regular contact with participants as the situation develops. Art instructors have been offered the option to tackle building or admin projects these next couple of weeks rather than lose the income they would have gotten through delivering these classes.

We are adjusting our projected cash flow to reflect these changes, recognizing that there are certainly more changes ahead of us. The biggest financial pinch is the cancellation of the Monroe Crossing concert, which we expected would our biggest fundraising event this year. There may be a way to conduct an online fundraising event this year, or perhaps do an online auction of the great raffle prizes we have collected. This is just one of the issues to figure out, very soon. For right now, I am in communication with the band and with Paul Bunyan Playhouse to come up with a date for spring 2021.

While we are still in reaction/survival/compliance mode, offering music lesson online has presented some intriguing questions: Will our students make big leaps forward with all the additional practice time at their disposal? In the future, can we deliver all make-up lessons electronically? Can we regularly offer E-lessons in addition to in person lessons? Can we hire instructors who live in other parts of the state or country to teach E-lessons? Once we are on firmer ground with our technology options, can we reach out to youth and adults who live in other parts of the region or the state? Or the country? Rather than simply accept that we will have a drop in student involvement, can we attract new students in the Bemidji area who are hungry for music enrichment in their lives? Will families, seeking creative outlets, be eager to purchase keyboards, guitars, ukuleles, or violins from us? Again, while much is uncertain, it feels good to even imagine there is an upside to all this, and to take action when we can.

In addition to responding to the Covid-19 concerns, our ongoing work continues. We had a very full house for our February 22 music and art instructor showcase. Such talented people around here! Many of our students came to support their instructors. I especially like the picture below of Carolyn receiving a flowers from her student Hannah. It reminds me that we are a community, and that we all have something to offer. Not just instruction and guidance, but also encouragement, kindness, and a generous spirit.

We are working on policy updates, establishing online data storage and better communication processes. Our board is tackling a long range planning process this spring. We have Region 2 Arts, Minnesota State Art Board, and Bemidji Area Arts Endowment, United Way and other grants to submit, report upon, or both. We are seeking additional board members. We have made some building improvements, including new carpeting in several music studios, and are taking bids for a sewer line replacement project for this spring. With the hope that we are still able to offer summer camps, we are working on securing funding and getting the word out about some really fun summer programs. We now have a gumball machine in the lobby, with a portion of the proceeds going to our scholarship programs. Plus, gumballs are just plain fun.

Thank you for your support and investment in Headwaters Music & Arts. We are especially grateful that right now we are on solid enough footing to be able to support our staff and our Headwaters family, address infrastructure needs, continue to keep our doors open, and imagine brighter days ahead.
If there is any way we can be there for you, please let me know.  I feel the need to close with the same message I’ve been using in my updates: Be safe.  Be brave. And let’s continue be there for each other.

With appreciation,

Tricia Andrews, Executive Director

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Collaborating for Success

We have began work on our annual publication, Collaborating for Success. This 20-24 page full color directory of seasonal activities informs community members and visitors to our area about upcoming 2020 summer events. Half or full page ads are available for local businesses and organizations that host summer events which often includes camps, private instruction schools, or organizations with specific summer programming. Local businesses without summer events are also invited to purchase a half page or sponsorship ad to list hours of business or offer a coupon to recipients of the publication. Sponsorship ads are business card size ads (3.5″ x 2″) and are for those who do not have events but want their name associated with Collaborating for Success.

Collaborating for Success has a broad audience. Local families look forward to receiving Collaborating for Success as they plan their summer activities, and it is also a resource for visitors to the community. Over 4,000 copies are sent out to area students in Mid March – early April, to the Bemidji, Cass Lake, Red Lake, Walker and Park Rapids school districts as well as area charter and private schools. Additional copies are delivered to area visitor centers and other public entities.

We are so proud to offer this colorful, high quality publication to the community as well as to allocate profits from the publication towards improving our art space to include a storage area, shelving, LED lighting, and a wheelchair accessible entrance (a goal that is very close to my heart).

The fee for Collaborating for Success ads include layout and editing assistance and publication delivery to school districts and other centers and hotels. There is limited space and contributors are accepted on a first come, first served basis. Those who are interested in purchasing space in the publication will need to confirm their commitment by January 20th. The publication will be completed by March 15th.

Info  and registration can be found here. Look at the 2019 publication here. Thank you for your interest!

Diamond Knispel, Marketing & Arts Program Coordinator

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End of Year Review

As the year draws to a close, we are grateful for the encouragement and support we receive from our community. Thank you for being a part of things here at Headwaters Music & Arts. Your involvement, your support and your commitment means will we continue to thrive and grow.

It has been a good year here at Headwaters Music & Arts.

Along with our community events and performances, amazing things happen in our building each week. Youth as well as adults come through our lobby for music lessons, pottery class, or art club. As I work on this letter, I hear the First City Singers work through a new song down in the performance hall – a Monday highlight for me. From community events to one-on-one relationships, each activity helps us bring our mission to life as we provide opportunities for creativity through instruction and inspire the community through music and the arts.

I have probably said way too often that I have the best job in Bemidji. I am not an artist or a musician, but I get to be part of this small but vibrant music and arts organization, knowing that we make an impact. What we do matters.

My dreams for my granddaughter are what we here at Headwaters Music & Arts envision for all of our music and art students. May they learn patience, confidence, and commitment. May they experience music and art literacy and proficiency (with the additional benefits of improved ability to focus, more hand-eye coordination and better test taking and multi-tasking!). May they build positive relationships in a safe and caring atmosphere. And may that spark of creativity sustain them - and fulfill them - throughout their lives.
Our goal is to raise $7,000 before December 31. Your contribution will help us with day-to-day operations, down to heat, sidewalk salt, and light bulbs for piano lamps in the studios. Beyond simply keeping our doors open, our 2020 goals include a furnace for our visual art and pottery studio, additional lighting in our performance hall, additional summer camps, and a native bird and bee-friendly landscaping project. Every dollar makes a big difference.

I invite you to be a part of things here at Headwaters Music & Arts. In fact, please attend our annual meeting 5:30 pm on Monday, December 9. And our Northwoods Winter Concert and Silent Auction is coming up 4-6 pm Sunday, December 8, with performances by our 2018 CD contributors, hors d’oeuvers, desserts and Brigids Pub cash bar. This mandolin, reimagined by artist Sarah Peterson, is one of the silent auction items. Lovely, yes? Tickets are $10. As a contributing member, we cordially invite you to attend as our guest.

With your interest and support, we will accomplish great things in 2020! May your holidays be full of music, art, and all the joy they bring.

Thank you. Thank you!

Tricia Andrews, Executive Director

Headwaters Music & Arts Board of Directors
Carrie Howard, Emily Fairchild, Ashley Charwood, Danielle McAllister, Gary Rients, Amie Lauderbaugh

{You can read and print the original letter here.}


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Letters from the Director

October was a busy and good month here at Headwaters. Our art clubs pre-school music class, and Monday pottery sessions kicked off for the fall. We had another successful CoffeeHouse and Open-Mic followed a week later by a music show with Sawyer Corcoran and friends.We received funding through Beltrami Electric's Round up Grant to replace the downright ratty carpeting in an upstairs studio, resource library and hallway. And it is not a super big deal, but we have installed a monitor on a wall in our lobby to highlight upcoming events and reminders. We are actually quite tickled by this communication upgrade - its been in the works for a long time. I should also mention that Headwaters invested in a wifi and internet upgrade and computers for admin staff, all steps long overdue. Our highlight for the month, though, was guest musician Carrie Dlutkowski.

Thanks to the voters of Minnesota, through a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund we were able to host folk musician Carrie Dlutkowski last week for a series of performances and workshops. Born and raised in Michigan's UP, Carrie is a talented classical and folk musician who during her visit shared her love of Scottish, French-Canadian and Metis (Native/French/Scottish) fiddle styles in the 18th century. Carrie was able to visit Cass Lake and Red Lake Schools and JW Smith Elementary in Bemidji. She led several fiddle camp workshops along with an Ottawa Valley Step Dance class, and was the musical guest at Headwaters Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. She stopped in for a chat and to play a song for KAXE's Katie Carter. She performed with Brian Miller and Norah Rendell  for an evening concert here at Headwaters. Carrie's mom and sister, also talented musicians, joined in for the final song of the night.

It is a perk of my job that I get a chance to spend time with people like Carrie, and to witness our community's response to her. A third grade student said she wished Carrie was her sister. Another girl shyly asked for her autograph. A Cass Lake High School boy broke out into a traditional dance during one of Carrie's songs. Carrie received a heartfelt standing ovation at the conclusion of the Saturday evening concert; Louise Jackson commented that her fiddle playing crisp, precise, simply lovely.

We enter November with gratitude for all we are able to offer our community, and appreciation for the support we receive that allows us to fulfill our mission.

Tricia Andrews
Executive Director