Erin Belanger - Founder, President, Executive Director
Erin Belanger is the Founder and Executive Director of Viva Musica, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring music and art education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies with an emphasis on Human Rights and non-profit organizations from the University of Minnesota and recently earned a Master of Arts Degree from St. Mary’s University in Arts and Cultural Non-profit Management. Erin’s resume includes a background in finance, law, and hospitality. Erin is also the owner of Bela & Company, a real estate company and is also a certified personal trainer. Erin is passionate for education as it instills philosophies and evokes discussion
I started playing violin in the sixth grade orchestra at Staples Motley Middle School. The sound of music coming alive as we plucked our fingers and ran our bows across the strings could fill a room with magic. In high school, our orchestra toured in New York and England. We performed in churches, auditoriums, and even at the World Trade Center. The whole experience was amazing. As we traveled and performed, I found myself in awe; music had introduced me to a world filled with possibilities. My exposure to music led me to discover my passion for life.
After I graduated college, I had realized that not all school orchestras were privy to going on tour. In fact, a lot of schools all over the country are being forced to make cut-backs and the arts were being taken out of the curriculum all together. I started imagining what it would be like if there were no more music or art classes and that is when Viva Musica was founded.I created Viva Musica so that schools could keep their arts programs. The organization’s mission is to spark creativity and innovation, enhance brain development, and create a well rounded education for all children enrolled in Minnesota public schools. I hope to develop several chapters of Viva Musica nationwide, eventually bringing music and art to all schools around the county.
I began my philanthropic career by receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies with an emphasis on Human Rights and Non-Profit Organizations from the University of Minnesota. I worked for HSBC, a large finance company, heading their philanthropic division. In this position, I helped manage over 15,000 employees as they volunteered with such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuild Together, and the Boys and Girls Club.
From music to art, finance and law, hospitality and tourism, my background includes a variety of industries. I am a jewelry designer and owner of the The Bela Gallery, and since 2010, have become a certified Turbokick, Piyo and Group Fitness instructor. I also volunteer as a freelance writer for the Finnish American Cultural Association.
I am passionate for education and believe that learning instills fundamental philosophies, creates culture and invites conversation. Currently, I am working towards a Master’s Degree in Arts and Cultural Management from St. Mary’s University and would like to someday work alongside government officials to ensure music and art are recognized as core subjects in American schools.
Do you sing in the shower?
What is your best moment with music?