Giving back, paying forward

June is months away, but plans for the 2015 Tiffin Music and Art Festival have begun. Festival founders Nathan Mullins and Chelsea Bickelhaupt have decided to direct proceeds from this year’s event June 12-13 into a fund to create scholarships for students at Columbian and Calvert high schools.

“We’re doing things much differently this year than the other years. We wanted to have something more parallel to our mission,” Bickelhaupt said.

The mission statement is, “To promote culture within our community and to bring awareness to the power of the arts.” The couple sees a scholarship as a way to encourage youths who have shown excellence in art-related areas to pursue advanced instruction. Bickelhaupt said the goal for this year is to give a $500 scholarship to one student from each school. Mullins added the number of scholarships could be higher, depending on the funds that come in from the festival.

This will be the fourth year for Tiffin Music and Art Festival, which operates on donations and volunteer hours. Mullins said the festival wants to apply for nonprofit, tax-exempt status. To do so, the festival must make a regular contribution to a specific charitable cause. Bickelhaupt pointed out Tiffin calls itself an “education community.”

“This is what we thought would be the best way for us to not only contribute to the community, but also to stay within our mission,” Mullins said.

He and Bickelhaupt have mapped out requirements for students seeking to receive the scholarship. Guidance counselors at each school are asked to nominate five students who plan to pursue a degree in the visual or performing arts and who have shown talent in that area. The nominees also must:

Have good attendance, not missing more than 10 school days in an academic year.

Maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA for the school year.

Provide 10 or more hours of community service in their desired field, as approved by the school.

Publicly display or perform their talent at least once during the academic year (e.g., concerts, competitions, demonstrations).

The list of eligible students is to be given to the festival committee. Then, the students must commit at least 10 hours of service to assist with the production of the Tiffin Music and Art Festival June 12-13 at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin. They could assist in a variety of ways before, during or after the event. The awardee(s) from each school is to be announced at the close of the festival.

Mullins said students interested in the arts may not always receive encouragement to make a career in those fields.

“I don’t know how many times people have told (Chelsea) her art degree is useless. She uses it every day, but to other people, it’s useless. If you hear that your whole life, you’re not likely to pursue a degree in the arts. … We’re telling people to pursue their dreams,” Mullins said.

Ideally, every student who meets the requirements would receive a scholarship, if funds are available. Mullins said community support will determine the number of students to be helped.

“I hope some of the artistic community in this town will get involved with this more than what they have in the past,” Mullins said.

Artists, musicians, crafters and vendors are encouraged to participate in the 2015 festival, along with volunteers to offer demonstrations, workshops and hands-on activities. They can sign up by email at Mullins said volunteers are needed in many capacities. More details can be obtained at, on the festival’s Facebook page, or call (567) 207-5041.