Woody Hughes standing with ice cream bowls he made for BAAM’s Youth Open Stage Fundraiser

BETHEL — Bethel Area Arts & Music is hosting the first Youth Open Stage of the school year and an Ice Cream Bowl Fundraiser on Thursday, September 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Gem Theater.

Youth Open Stage began in September of 2021 with support from the Davis Family Foundation, and since then, BAAM has held 19 Open Stages, benefiting 247 young performers. This program provides a judgment-free zone for youth to gain experience performing on a professional stage in front of peers and parents.

We have seen the confidence of each performer grow on and off the stage through this program. Participants in BAAM’s Youth Open Stage are encouraged to perform a song, play an instrument, or read a poem they wrote. All types of talents are encouraged including comedy and dance.

“It is incredible to see the confidence grow in these kids. This past January we had a 4th grader perform for the first time, you could barely hear her over the microphone. Her friends cheered her on and helped sing back-up.

“The next month she tried again with a little more confidence. By the third Open Stage she attended, she was belting out Adele at the top of her lungs,” BAAM Program Director Kate Webb, says of the program.

Last May local potter Woody Hughes heard that BAAM was to have their last Youth Open Stage due to the grant funding for the program running out. He generously offered to hand-make 100 ice cream bowls to donate to BAAM to have an ice cream social fundraiser to keep Open Stage going.


Woody has been making pottery since 1974. He received his BFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and did post-graduate study at Kansas City Art Institute. He has maintained a ceramics studio since 1980.

Woody has taught ceramics at the college level (Parsons, Greenwich House Pottery, Dowling College) and has taught hundreds of workshops throughout the country and internationally, including Penland, Anderson Ranch, Haystack, and Arrowmont. Hughes has been published in multiple books and periodicals throughout his career.

Bethel newcomers Mainely Provisions generously donated ice cream and toppings to this event. For a suggested donation of $35, attendees will receive ice cream and their very own handmade ceramic bowl, made by Woody Hughes to take home. All funds raised at this event will benefit the Youth Open Stage program. Youth Open Stage is free to attend. Youth are not required to purchase a bowl to participate in Open Stage.

This event will be held on Thursday, September 14. The Ice Cream Social Fundraiser will begin at 4:30, with youth performers able to sign up at 5:30, followed by youth performances at 6 p.m.

If you are unable to attend this event and would like to support BAAM’s Youth Open Stage Series please consider making a donation at https://tinyurl.com/youthstage. Simply choose “Youth Open Stage” on the drop-down menu to ensure your donation goes toward this program!

If your business is interested in sponsoring this program, please contact the BAAM Program Director at coordinator@bethelareaartsandmusic.com.

The Gem Theater is located at 48 Cross Street Bethel, ME 04217. Find more information at www.bethelareaartsandmusic.com or www.thegemtheater.com. Bethel Area Arts & Music (BAAM) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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