Committee connects people through art

Posted on January 10, 2020

The Blue Water Arts Committee (BWAC) is ready to kick off the new year as they seek to boost and support a vibrant arts culture in St. Clair County.

Leading the charge this year, and excited to take on the challenge, is new committee chair, Tom Walker.

A Detroit native, Walker was drawn to the Port Huron area by the Times Herald. He took a position with the newspaper in 1988, where he worked as a columnist and editor for the opinion page until 2015.  While he continues to write freelance, it is when he has a saxophone in his hands that Walker’s true passion shines through.

A gifted saxophonist and vocalist, Walker performs at various venues locally and in his hometown of Detroit. His interest in music is varied, from classical to country. “I think country music would benefit from the addition of a saxophone,” Walker professed. But his band, Forever Blue, which debuted last August at the Southside music festival, sticks to jazz and blues… and perhaps a little reggae.

Walker isn’t just a performer, he’s an all-around arts champion, supporting the local symphony, music festivals and visual arts as well. When asked about the future of the arts in the region and the role the Arts Committee plays, he was excited about the direction the community is headed.

“The Blue Water Area has seen a significant advance in the arts, and my hope is that this surge will further expand in this new year,” Walker said. “There are a great many artists and artistic venues that deserve the community’s interest and support. And if the committee can do what it can to enhance those, then I think we will have done our job.”

Tom is known in the community not only for his musical talents, but also as being a teacher, connector, and mentor. Kevin Totty, who has worked with Walker over the last 25 years on committees and faith-based initiatives, described Walker as “a humble, quiet storm that produces wisdom through intentional relationships.” Totty added, “His heart is truly in community and building sustainable connections.”

Walker’s wisdom and connections will be a valuable asset to the Arts Committee, which brings together individuals of various ages and backgrounds, from high schoolers to retirees, including the addition of six new members this year. Joining the team are local artist/entrepreneur Jody Parmann, financial advisor and thespian Jonathan Meldrum, professional photographer Chamira Young, and former “The Voice” contestant Branden Pavlov. PHHS’s Devonte Barber and PHN’s Ben Adair will provide a youthful perspective, as the BWAC’s first high school students to join the committee.

Funding for the BWAC is made possible through the support of the Charles and Margaret Anderson Endowment Fund.  Charles, a well-known soloist, and his wife Margaret, an accomplished pianist, were great supporters of the arts. They enjoyed attending concerts, participating in choirs and musicales, and sharing their gifts with others. It was because of this love that they designated their estate to create a charitable fund that would support arts in the region for future generations. The fund was established in 1994 and has granted over $1.2 million over the years, providing support to arts and culture related programs, organizations and events.



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