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Talented youngsters earn big boost from Beneath the Arch

$6,500 in funding being awarded to young performing artists in Foothills County thanks to Beneath the Arch's annual bursary program.
Lexi Letkeman, a 12-year-old singer and piano player, is one of the recipients of this year's Beneath the Arch bursary totalling $6,500.

Diamond Valley non-profit Beneath the Arch is giving a total of $6,500 to young performers through its annual performing arts bursary.

"We had a record number of 25 outstanding bursary applications come in this year, which made the selection process competitive, challenging and rewarding for our committee," said Jim Coyle, director of awards for Beneath the Arch.

Beneath the Arch defines "performing arts" as "any creative, artistic endeavour that is active and viewed by an audience," including dance, music and theatre.

"Geographically, the applicants have to live in Foothills County, but only west of 16 Street West," said Coyle. "So it includes Diamond Valley, Millarville, Longview and Priddis, but not Okotoks or High River.

"It's specific to our area, which of course is back to the community aspect of it all."

The funds can be used for anything related to the artist's work, including tuition, materials, competition fees and more.

The bursary recipients are as follows: Macy Richardson, Emily Welsh, Russell Hodson, Carys Perdue, Isla Stokke, Winslow Way-Dunlop, Kayden Parker, Lily Kaack, Phoebe Braun, Charis Braun, Reagan Weiss and Lexi Letkeman.

Letkeman, a 12-year-old singer and piano player, is ecstatic after being selected.

"It just gives you a confidence boost because others support your music and want to see you grow and learn," said Letkeman, who has been interested in music since she was five.

She added that the funding gives her the opportunity not only to continue to play piano, but deepen her understanding of music.

Thanks to the amount of funds available, Coyle is happy to be helping more young performing artists than ever before.

"In previous years up to last year, I think we averaged $1,500 in bursaries," he said, crediting the organization's fundraising and sponsorships for the massive jump to $6,500.

To help with fundraising, the organization held 50/50 draws at each of its concerts and a raffle with some big prizes, including a canoe and accessories package valued at $6,273 courtesy of Tom’s Marine & Sports. The recipient of the top prize package was Kathleen Coyle of Calgary, and the other two winners were Brennen Dow of Diamond Valley and Bill Fowler of High River, who won a Turner Valley Golf Club prize package and Anchor D Outfitting horseback riding sessions, respectively.

Coyle added that Beneath the Arch is grateful to all its sponsors, volunteers and community members for their support of the concert series, and encourages music lovers to check out the upcoming concert lineup at

The season will kick-off on Saturday, Sept. 21 with a double header: Skinny Dyck and Band and Sean Burns & Lost Country.

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips or questions about his articles, Amir can be reached at [email protected].
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