Building Community through the Arts: The Belin Arts Scholarship

“I am so grateful to the members of the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees, and the Waverly community, who have given so generously their time and effort to bring forth this scholarship in memory of my father (Peter Belin, 1963).”

In the last blog post, we featured Peter Belin Jr. who , through his dedication to the capturecommunity, the arts, and the desire to memorialize his late father, created the Belin Arts Scholarship. This endowment was first awarded in 1964 and has gone on to benefit talented individuals for decades; it has provided awards to men and women from various different backgrounds and regional areas, engaging in a multitude of disciplines such as: painting, music, dance,literature, architecture, printmaking, and more. This year, as we enter into a new era of development for the Belin Arts Scholarship and Foundation, we remain dedicated and committed to continuing the vision of Peter Belin and his amazing gift to the community on behalf of his father.

The Belin Arts Scholarship

On July 6th, 1961, Ferdinand Lammot Belin passed away; Mr. Belin, who was a lifelong lover of the arts, as well as an active community member, remained very passionate about beautification efforts and became involved with many different restoration projects throughout his life. F. Lammot also remained very devoted to the Waverly Community House and its mission. One of the most significant examples of his dedication to the Comm came in 1958 when he facilitated a much appreciated expansion of the auditorium in memory of his beloved wife Frances Jermyn Belin who had passed away in 1945. After his death 16 years later, his son Peter continued the memorial tradition that helped create the Comm so long ago in 1919 by giving back to the community in remembrance of a loved one; this time, the arts remained the focus of commemorative efforts. This gift, initially labeled the F. Lammot Belin Memorial Fund, would go on to evolve into a sustained benefaction, with those awarded spanning in age ranges, geographical locations, and cultural boundaries. The Belin Arts Scholarship, as it was later called, would go on to become one of the most coveted awards for artists to obtain in pursuit of their respective vocations.

In October of 1961, a series of meetings between Peter Belin Jr. and the Waverly Community House Board of Trustees would take place; these gatherings were held in order to determine how best to honor the late F. Lammot. Due to his love of the fine arts, it was later suggested to offer some sort of monetary award to artists through the Belin family and the Waverly Community House. Shortly thereafter, a special committee was formed to primarily focus on this scholarship and its development; the very first F. Lammot Belin Memorial Fund Committee meeting consisted of: Mrs. W.L. Chamberlin, Mrs. William M. Dawson, Mr. F.P. Christian, Mr. F.T. Dolbear, Mr. A.D. Hemelright, and Mr. C.W. Belin (as indicated on committee letter, 1962). In 1962, it was officially determined that a definitive scholarship be offered to artists involved in various disciplines to pursue their crafts under the direction of funds provided through the endowment. Thus, the Belin Arts Scholarship was born; the very first description of this award is described as follows: “Patron of the arts and artists, collector and creator, his love of beauty will benefit all…now, and in the years to come. The F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship has been established to honor the memory of a great man and a loving father, by his son, Peter Belin.”

Belin Arts Scholarship: the Early Years

Soon after the scholarship was conceptualized, applicants were encouraged to apply for the 1964 cycle; Dr. John Bourne, Chairman of the Scholarship Administration, Howard Hyde, Chairman of the Selection Committee, and Leigh Woehling, President of the Comm’s Board of Trustees also took their time to search for talented individuals through the region who were also urged to apply. The very first winner of the scholarship, Carol Leah Jones, was a pianist from Scranton, PA who planned on continuing her craft with the hopes of eventually becoming a concert pianist. Miss Jones showed much promise to the committee as she also expressed her desire to continue her education at the Manhattan College of Music upon reception of the award. After Carol Jones, John Hyer was presented with the award in both the 1965 and 1966 cycles; Mr. Hyer was a vocalist and recent graduate of Wilkes College (University) who later went on to attend the Julliard School of Music to receive his Masters Degree in Vocal Pedagogy. Of the Belin Arts Scholarship, Mr. Hyer exclaims: “I couldn’t have gone to Julliard without it! It opened doors for me in such places as Aspen, Colorado and it made things better in my whole career.” From Miss Jones’ first win and Hyer’s dual awards, it became clear that this scholarship was fulfilling its intention– it was bettering the lives of recipients and allowing them to grow and evolve in their careers and lives.

The endowment’s first year concluded with 32 total applicants; this number continued tojs-2 grow exponentially each year as word of the award circulated around amongst those involved in the fine arts discipline. From 1964, until the present, the Belin Arts Scholarship has continued to grow and evolve to benefit the arts and artists everywhere; over the years it had funded the arts of: architecture, drama, music, literature, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and more. What began as a memorial vision, has become so much more; as we approach a new developmental period in regards to the scholarship, we look forward to all of the new ways that this gift can continue to touch the lives of talented individuals everywhere.

Quotes from Belin Arts Scholarship Recipients: 

Barbara Harbach (1970), organist: “The Belin Arts Scholarship allowed me to experience art and culture at a high level that would’ve taken a number of years to achieve without it.”

Robert Reese (1971), painter: “Without the Belin Arts Scholarship, I could’ve never realized the professional boundaries I have, it was a blessing of huge proportions. I have told many people over the decades about this wonderful Foundation that came to my aid. It prompted me to paint very large, to make connections, and to be invited to exhibit at various museums and to lecture at many universities.”

Roosevelt Newson (1978), pianist: ” The scholarship served as a professional launch pad for me and opened the door to professional management.”

Barbara Hopkins (1984), flutist: “The Belin Arts Scholarship enabled me to complete my Master’s Degree at the Mannes College of Music without taking any loans. This was an enormous advantage in later years as I was able to spend more time practicing for auditions instead of working a retail job paying loans.”

Karen Blomain (1986), writer: “The scholarship allowed me to accept a fellowship at Columbia University. It opened the wider world of poetry, of writing and publishing, and provided me the opportunity to study with major writers of our time.”

Mark Chuck (2006), sculptor: “Having these means at my disposal has immeasurably aided me with my goals as an artist and I am most grateful for the Belin Family’s generosity. The award has greatly contributed to my local and regional recognition as a ceramic artist.”

The aforementioned quotes are indicative of simply a few expressions of gratitude from those grateful for all that the Belin Arts Scholarship has provided them both developmentally and professionally. For over 50 years, this award has gone on to make its mark regionally and nationally with its wide range of possibilities. This year, we enter into a new phase of development for the Belin Arts Scholarship with its expansion into the F. Lammot Belin Arts Foundation; this extension will also include the much anticipated Belin Film Festival. This event is scheduled to commence on October 14th and is set to last throughout the entire weekend with multiple locations participating in the efforts to bring community awareness and recognition to independent films and filmmakers at a national level. For more information on this exciting and groundbreaking event you can obtain information below. As the Belin Arts Scholarship and Foundation advances, we remain deeply dedicated to continue to provide the community with new opportunities with every passing year.

Belin Film Festival Information:      http://www.flbaf.org/

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