Our History

Co-Founders Pete Kehoe & Michelle Chenard

Co-Founders Pete Kehoe & Michelle Chenard


It all started when…

Big Water Creative Arts, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization that was created by longtime friends and musical colleagues Michelle Chenard and Pete Kehoe, as a response to the lack of music education in our public schools, and budget cuts to existing art and music programs throughout the state.  The idea for BWCA started in 2014 in the form of an annual songwriters workshop on Mackinac Island, a weekend long creative songwriting program for adults that the pair offered in October each year at the Murray Hotel.  While rewarding and a positive experience for all involved, Michelle and Pete realized they needed to go even further, and BWCA was born; a permanent organization to provide music education of all kinds to kids and adults both, who otherwise would not have the opportunity. 

         Initial offerings were songwriting classes through local schools and art centers for kindergarten through middle school-aged students.  Now, BWCA’s programs include music exploration, instrumental lessons and songwriting classes for special needs adults, as well as for kids and the elderly.  Starting in 2018, BWCA is expanding its territory of operations to include a wider area of northern Michigan, and the metro Detroit area as well. 

         Long term goals include plans to launch permanent programs state-wide in assisted and independent care facilities by 2019, and year-round programs with special needs adults in the northern Michigan area.  BWCA has come a long way in a short amount of time, and the growth and potential for good to be done via music are enormous.  

         We believe that music education is as important to every single human being on this planet as the air we breathe, and that the benefits that come from that exposure to music and creative thinking are critical to young, developing minds, and vital to keeping older minds cognitively sharp as well.  And aside from all that, music is simply good for us all.  It connects us all as human beings, and shared musical experiences bind us all together as only music can.  Big Water Creative Arts is dedicated to providing the opportunity to experience the magic of music for those who wouldn’t have it otherwise.  We believe it is crucial to retaining our humanity in an increasingly inhumane world.  Music IS the very essence of humanity.  Help us continue our mission to connect, to heal, to make whole, those who need music in their lives.