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Brademan chosen for 2010 Friend of the Arts Award

Janet Brademan, director of the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, will be honored June 10 as Bemidji's 22nd Friend of the Arts. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

If there is one word that describes Janet Brademan, the 22nd recipient of the Friend of the Arts Award for 2010, it would be imaginative, but not in the average way.

Brademan is able to take an idea and run with it; she is known for thinking out of the box and forging ahead while others are still making up their minds.

Brademan will be honored as Bemidji Community Art Center's Friend of the Arts Award at a reception from 5:30- 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 10, in the Garden Court of First National Bank Bemidji, 1600 Paul Bunyan Drive N.W. The social hour and hors d'oeuvres will be served beginning at 5:30 and the award presentation will be made at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger and can be purchased now at BCAC and Headwaters School of Music and the Arts. Tickets will be $15 at the door. This event is sponsored in part by BCAC's sustaining business partners, First National Bank Bemidji and North Country Health Services.

Many in the Bemidji community share the same talents for computers and business acumen as does Brademan. She used that ability to turn a struggling music and art school, started by local musicians and artists, into the financially stable non-profit that HSMA is today. On the surface that does not seem to be an extraordinary feat, but in reality she saved HSMA by being willing to meld business acumen and inexperience in the arts into a successful learning experience.

Although Brademan started at HSMA as a volunteer and part time business manager in 2001, she turned her fruitful imagination toward what-to-do to bring about financial stability by working many hours past the part-time status. In her relatively short tenure as executive director starting in that position in 2003, she has used her ingenuity in finding funding sources by writing grant applications to local and state funding agencies, forging collaborative relationships with similar non-profits, broadening the scope and offerings of the school and recruiting master's and doctoral level instructors for local music students.

As Nancy Gallagher, a former and now present HSMA board member said in her letter of support, "Her understanding of the bottom line has made us solvent and is keeping us there. But now as I watch from the vantage point of a board member once again, I finally see the school thriving and accomplishing what the founding board and its leader at that time, Ann Hayes, had envisioned."

Brademan is known for her willingness to take risks; she will apply for funding for a particular project and give it all the support she can even when a successful end is not inevitable. When the state park system was wondering what to do about the upcoming Sesquicentennial, Brademan helped write a grant for the "Head of the Lakes Picnic," a commemoration of a time when a steamboat would pick up people from around Lake Bemidji and take them to the north side of the lake for a picnic. She worked with the Beltrami County History Center, local artists and the Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park. That event started in 2008 and continues to attract celebrants each July.

A local poet and writer, Marsh Muirhead went to see Brademan when he decided to take a chance on bringing the former poet laureate of the United States, Billy Collins to Bemidji. Again faced with a challenge, she took on helping Muirhead with the project by identifying funding sources and outlining a promotion plan.

"(Janet) immediately understood the opportunity at hand and adopted a 'no obstacle is too big' (attitude) to make this event happen," said Muirhead. "She is positive, enthusiastic (and) open-minded."

Brademan continues to open new doors, cement collaborations, and seek new opportunities for HSMA to partner with other non-profits to produce events not only for Bemidji. She received a grant from Region 2 Arts Council that allows for a string teacher to travel to the Clearwater Life Center in Clearwater to give music lessons to grade school students who have no other opportunity to study music.

Becky Dorman, executive director of the Clearwater Life Center, said, "Janet's enthusiasm in bringing arts into smaller communities is inspirational. She has been an encouragement for us here at the Center."

The working relationships Brademan built with Bemidji State University and the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra led to the Junior Symphony.

"Her approach is akin to having two plus two equal five, that a resource from one 'partner,' if utilized creatively by another, could result in something greater than the sum of both," said Carolyn Jacobs a current HSMA board member.

Brademan would be the first to say that when she started as executive director of HSMA, she was not well versed in the arts per se. It is difficult to believe her claim that she didn't know the difference between a saxophone and a trumpet when she started.

As the person who nominated Brademan for this award, Kristi Miller, wrote, "She knows the difference now and that lack of musical knowledge did not stop her from understanding HSMA's mission which is to Build Community, Seek Music, Engage the Arts."

When Brademan was asked about her winning the Friend of the Arts Award, she said, "If this was just a job for me, I probably would have left long ago. Being a part of the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts is a joy and a part of my life. I have had the opportunity to meet wonderful musicians, artists, puppeteers, parents, peers and people."