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May Newsletter

Accents & Illuminations

Walker|West Newsletter: May 2023

Sending peace after this Memorial weekend. We hope you honored the memories of the fallen in the best way you know how. For many of us, that’s something that smells like flavorful cookouts, soundtracked with cultural classics required to be on everyone’s playlist. Some of those songs might feature talent grown and developed at Walker|West, which has been a cultural hub for 35 years. In this newsletter, we’re saying thank you to our families, funding partners, and everyone who supports our organization. We’re thankful for your investment of time, tuition, and absorbing the many stories that have emerged. To convey our gratitude, and why your gifts, and partnership mean so much to us, allow us to reach back, and provide some context. Get ready to groove, as we invite you to gather with us this summer, and prepare for all that Walker|West Music Academy has to come.

Let’s start from the top

The Makings of Walker|West

Walker|West began as a studio for young African-Americans of the Rondo Community to foster new paths to success. Founded in 1988, by Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West. The original Walker|West Music Academy location was 777 Selby Ave . These passionate men with their commitment to the church, and love for music, provided instrument & vocal lessons, and a myriad of programs over the years. The student population of their humble non-profit grew larger, moving into a bigger building at 760 Selby Avenue in 2014 . Striking art by Ta-Coumba T. Aiken decorated the exterior in 2018, and it was a beautifully welcomed update. We’re now five years past, our lease at our current space is almost up, and we’re ready to grow through music more than ever.

The Time is Now

Moving at the right pace to find the perfect place

One goal for our the Walker|West team, is to build upon the legacy of this organization. With that, comes the need for a new space to gather, and explore through music. Since 2021, we have opened our capital campaign, seeking funding to expand our programming, and update our learning and gathering space. Earlier this year, we integrated Minnesota Jazz Education programs with ours, closing the gap between our organizations, and creating even more room for our Walker|West Without Walls initiative. We are re-imagining our Digital Music Program thanks to a major contribution from the NBA Foundation, and a partnership with Hamline University. Music education is necessary for our people of all ages and backgrounds, and the methods and practices of Walker|West continues to inspire, and elevate members of our communities.

So, on the road to expansion, and sourcing capital campaign funding, our ED and team came across the future home of Walker|West Music Academy. The location: 650 Marshall Ave in St. Paul, former site of the Wilder Foundation. Since last year, our Capital Campaign has included a request from the MN State Legislature for funding to cover the cost of the purchase and renovations of our community cultural hub’s new home base. With state senators & representatives on our side, and right before an omnibus bill & potential grant opportunity would come to fruition, There was “a match made in heaven” with Model Cities, St. Paul, who extended an opportunity we could not miss. Through yet another magnificent partnership, Model Cities and LISC have provided a 2.5 million dollar loan. The loan is in the form of a purchase-resell transaction, which essentially means Model Cities has purchased the property on our behalf. We intend to purchase the property from Model Cities now that we have been approved for a $4.1 Million Direct Appropriation from the State of Minnesota. The generosity and timing of this transaction allowed Walker|West to close on the purchase in April 2023.

Coming up!

Amazing Grace Chorus Spring Concert

You are invited to gather with our elders on June 11th for “Keepers of the Culture”. Enjoy the gospel sounds of our jewel Amazing Grace Chorus. Take some time to learn about healthy aging, especially if someone in your family suffers from memory ailments as they have progressed in life. The event will be held at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Festivities begin at 4pm.

Spend your summer with us!

Register for our remaining summer camps

There is still time to register for summer music camps at Walker|West. This year, we’re offering vital and unique options for your students.

-Summer Jazz Intensive is for middle school and high school youth who are new to jazz or experienced in jazz music, and want to improve their improvisation skills.

-The Summer Jazz Violin workshop is designed for violin students looking to branch out from traditional classical music, or desire to improve their improvisational skills.

Find out more details regarding summer camps on our website. Tuition assistance is available.

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Before Its Too Late!