BONNYVILLE – Clayton Bellamy wants to give young musicians the same help he received to kick-start his music career.
Bellamy launched the Clayton Bellamy Foundation for the Arts, in partnership with Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) and MacEwan University, to support education and community-based programs by providing financial support to art programs.
According to Bellamy, the idea of creating a foundation had been one he had been working on for a number of years and everything fell into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had a little extra time, finally, to put the actual boots on the ground and get it started,” he recalled, adding he hopes it will be able to help a young musician the same way a bursary from the Bonnyville Opry Association assisted him when he went to college to study music.
“I believe it was the only time they ever did that, but I never forgot that gift that they gave me. I always wanted to give back in that way to the community.”
Not only a JUNO award winner, Bellamy is also a five-time Canadian Country Music winner, a multi-platinum selling artist, and a Road Hammers member. He is slated to release a new album this year with his rock’n’roll band, the Congregation.
Bellamy stressed he wouldn’t have had the success he’s had without the support of his hometown.
“Not only the financial assistance, but just with the assistance of the community by-and-large. As trivial as it might sound, just people coming out to a concert or supporting me in what I’ve done when I’m making music... The community has always supported what I’ve done and I’ve always tried to do my best to keep things in the community and bring it home. This is just part of it. It’s just wanting to continue to build that.”
When asked why this project was so important to Bellamy, he said that he’s “really committed to building the next generation of artists.”
“We’ve had some great musicians come out of the Bonnyville area,” he added. “As much as this job has given me and this community has given me a career, I want to give back to them and help build and be a part of building the next generation of artists. It’s really important for me to lay that groundwork so that’s what we’re going to do.”
The main purpose of the Clayton Bellamy Foundation is to help send kids to post-secondary education in music and to develop after school programs, Bellamy stated.
“We’ve partnered with Grant MacEwan University to bring faculty into the Lakeland area to do weekend and after school courses and to take kids out to Edmonton to take part in their productions, to see the school, and what they have to offer. It’s to inspire kids and to show them that there’s more out there in the fine arts if they want to pursue it. It’s to open those doors a little wider, for kids to be able to see that just because we’re kind of secluded out here in the Lakeland there’s still opportunities in the arts.”
The scholarship is open to current graduates of NLPS and can only apply in the year they finish high school. Graduates of the 2021/22 school year are the first eligible to apply.
Letters of recommendation are required from the student's principal and music teacher, along with proof of registration that the applicant will be entering a recognized post-secondary training in a fine arts program.
According to the foundation’s website, priority will be given to applicants who are pursuing education in music or the arts with the additional intention of teaching in a public school.
But that’s not all the foundation will be working on.
Bellamy said they have a number of initiatives in the planning process, including a concert that will see him performing alongside other musicians to raise funds.
“Right now, we’re striving towards giving kids access to better programming out here in the Lakeland for the arts and also for our financial assistance if that’s something they want to pursue.”