Franz Haase Announces Formation of the Wolfeboro Institute of the Arts
If you didn’t know better, you might think Franz Haase of The Folk Cellar is running for town office. He’s perpetually introducing people, finding ways to support nonprofits, volunteering to help, and giving back to the community. And now he’s ready to announce his next big move: The Wolfeboro Institute of the Arts.
“It’s like this,” he says, “I used to summer up here when I was a kid, and after trying life on the fast track, I ‘ran away’ to Wolfeboro, married Louise and I’ve considered Wolfeboro home ever since. Even when we lived away for years, I considered it home, you know what I mean? And when someplace is home, you want to see it do well.”
After serving with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam , raising 3 children, building businesses based on his patented energy saving construction techniques, and “retiring,” he and Louise returned to the area for keeps in 2005 and he opened The Folk Cellar a few years later. According to Charlie Zatzkin, a regular, “The Folk Cellar is Wolfeboro’s ‘Music Central’ for instruments, lessons, recording and schmoozing.”
“I guess you could say that Wolfeboro and Winnipesaukee have been my Muse for as long as I can remember,” says Haase. “My musical roots go way back here. So I figured, why not open a store and see if it’s like that movie, Field of Dreams. And you know? It was. They came.”
“They” have included children wanting lessons, hobbyists looking for friendly tips, American Idol contestants cutting their first albums, and area pros, as well as up and coming artists, seeking community. The Folk Cellar has even produced its own house band, The Traveling Wolfeburys that regularly plays to sell-out crowds.
Franz soon realized his vision of Wolfeboro as Muse was not unique to him and bigger than The Folk Cellar.
One of the first professional musicians attracted to The Folk Cellar was Ryan Ordway, a Wakefield-born Boston musician with Hollywood songwriting credentials. Like Franz, he had left the region but belatedly realized the source of his artistic energy was the area’s stunning beauty, 33 1/3 rpm pace and the creativity it engendered. Together, Franz and Ryan created Resort Recordings, the only full-service, state-of-the-art professional recording studio on this side of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The positive reception of their recordings among professional musicians, producers and songwriters convinced them to move forward with their ultimate dream: building a supportive, encouraging and sustaining creative atmosphere for audio and visual artists in Wolfeboro. They dreamed of the Wolfeboro Institute of the Arts (WIA), a non-profit academy where
• Dedicated professional artists embrace Wolfeboro as a welcoming community, place of inspiration, and eclectic performance venue
• Talented musicians learn and practice today’s new self-directed entrepreneurial skills needed to flourish in a highly competitive industry
• Amateurs hone skills so they can accomplish greater good in their chosen communities
• Wolfeboro is established as the center of artistic mentoring across generations
• Ties among artists and Wolfeboro-area business, civic and creative communities support and enhance the area year round
Positive reports of Resort Recordings’ projects have opened doors for Franz and Ryan, and contemporary music professionals across the nation have embraced WIA.
Greg Tobler, professional audio designer, recording and mastering engineer for Paul Simon, Joan Baez, David Bowie, and Alicia Keys, among others said, “Having a studio in Wolfeboro is a great concept. I am looking forward to getting out of the city and doing projects at WIA and teaching classes there as well. The lake and the surrounding area is a great resource for creating a good work environment.”
The positive reception of the WIA by those in the industry may be due, in part, to the fact that if rock ‘n roll music were a person, it would just now be on the cusp of retirement, traditionally a time when individuals ponder their legacy and want to give back the kindnesses they themselves have received.
Dave Lyons, Technical Audio Designer at Sonic Circus, who has worked for Sun Studios, Bon Jovi and Peter Frampton, reflected this when he said, “This is a tremendous concept and I am excited to be involved. I would love to be able to send my children there.”
While classical musicians have had long access to a wide variety of programming, like the Heifetz Institute, intended to enhance student skill, provide performance opportunities, offer long-term mentoring, and in some cases, training in the business of music, the relatively young rock scene offers few—if any—comprehensive offerings such as WIA.
“And you know, that’s a problem,” says Haase. “Everyone’s always worried about kids and how to keep them out of trouble, but a lot of times, kids don’t have many choices. If they’re not into sports—you know what I mean?—or playing classical music, they don’t have many support systems, especially in a rural area like this.
“What we want to do is give them positive options where money is not a hurdle. We’ll offer scholarships. Already 10% of all the lessons I teach are free for people who can’t afford to pay full-price. The Institute, too, will admit at least 10% of its student body at tuition rates set on a sliding scale based on financial circumstance. The long term goal will be to increase this number to 50%.
“We also want to offer technical training for people who may not want to be professional musicians but still want ‘in’ to the music industry. And we don’t want to limit it to just kids. There are a lot of adults out there—and because of my background, I think especially about vets coming back from the Middle East, who need training to make it in today’s digital economy. We want to offer that.”
Research by American for the Arts reveals that music education at any age strengthens problem-solving and critical thinking skills; helps students develop core appreciation and understanding of the world around them; helps promote a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done; makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of individuals and has proven to help even the learning field across socio-economic boundaries; and nurtures important values, including team-building skills, respecting alternative points of view, and appreciating and being aware of cultures and traditions.
“Really, this is just a natural extension of The Folk Cellar,” says Franz. “Our motto has been ‘to bring the world together through music.’ Now we’re just bringing more of the world together in Wolfeboro through music. Hold on, folks, it’s going to be a great ride!”
The Wolfeboro Institute of the Arts has applied for 501(c)3 status and will soon start accepting donations to a designated account at Meredith Village Savings Bank. To find out more about how you can be part of this new initiative in Wolfeboro, contact Franz Haase at The Folk Cellar, 603.515.1003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.