Seven-year-old Braxton Haulcy was a subject of concern to his second-grade teachers.
So much so they suggested to his mother he be held back to repeat second grade. His mother agreed but made a point to broaden her son’s horizons outside of the classroom setting. She enrolled him in music lessons and changed the course of his life for the better.
Fast forward to high school and he graduated with honors. In college, again, he graduated with honors. Haulcy attributes his academic awakening and eventual success to music.
Today, Haulcy has garnered another achievement as the recently named executive director of Walker West Music Academy (WWMA). He has hit the ground running; combining his extensive experience as a musician, parent of former WWMA students, non-profit board member of various community organizations such as Gillette’s Children’s Hospital, Model Cities, and Phyllis Wheatley Community Center. Additionally, Haulcy led a successful career in general management within sales, marketing and finance.
He has a driving principle for success that he plans to apply in his work at WWMA.
“I am a firm believer within any organization; you grow or you die. If you are not focused on growth you will wither away. Best practices for me are that you are always looking to enhance, improve and find relevancy in what you are doing,” Haulcy said.
WWMA founders, the Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West laid a musical foundation that has remained relevant with intergenerational reach and led some students to celebrity status and international acclaim. They believe Haulcy will be key in building on the organization’s longevity from which they built 30 years ago. In 2018, the state acknowledged WWMA’s longevity with a proclamation from Gov. Mark Dayton in honor of the organization’s 13th year of existence as a Minnesota institution
“(Haulcy) is a musician. I think that makes him a little more valued. Any time you can get a musician that is an administrator, it expresses an understanding about what we are as an organization,” said West.
Even as the organization gains more accolades with time the work continues with an urgency.
“I hope he will be a voice in the community especially a voice in those areas where we have kind of missed out on getting new blood into the community. Our outreach needs to be expanded now,” said Walker.
Haulcy has a broad vision of expanding WWMA’s historic and cultural value and reach within the Twin Cities and beyond to global proportions, all while remaining rooted at its home location on Selby Avenue in St. Paul.
“Walker West is in a unique position to play a pivotal role in aligning its capability in music education and performance with community needs around several initiatives targeting different generations and collaborating with various organizations,” said the new director.
For Haulcy, collaboration is paramount to carrying on WWMA’s legacy. To address critical issues in the community he has taken a boots on the ground approach to the work. To support music education to improve academic performance, WWMA is in dialogue with St. Paul Public Schools to start a music mentor program, in addition to doing direct work with elementary and middle schools. WWMA is working with MacPhail Center for the Arts for guidance and support in developing a WWMA early childhood music initiative to focus on introducing children of color to music programming. To enrich seniors, WWMA is working on an initiative with Rondo Community Land Trust to provide music lessons to residents of the new senior housing units on Selby. In turn, WWMA students will perform for seniors and seniors will have opportunity to volunteer for recitals and other activities at WWMA. In 2019, WWMA will start a new strategic planning process with a plan to increase its weekly enrollment numbers from 188 students to 250 students. Haulcy continues to lead his work with questions regarding growth and relevancy.
“How do you become more relevant to millennials and Generation Z who want an ecommerce platform? How do you become more relevant to seniors? Who can we reach out and be more relevant in more geographical areas like Minneapolis? How can we partner with different groups like the Promise Neighborhood, High School for Recording Arts, or Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis? How can we build alliances and partnerships that benefit both parties? How do we help close the achievement gap through music because that is a really big issue here? And we have a solution,” said. Haulcy.
For more information on Walker West Music Academy visit www.walkerwest.org, or, call (651) 224-2929.