Back to Stories

The Scottville Clown Band: Bridging Music and Philanthropy

Scottville Clown Band in downtown Ludington. Photo by

The Scottville Clown Band is known across Michigan for its zany costumes, comedic antics, and powerful musical sound. But what many may not know about the band is its philanthropic mission to support youth who have an interest in the performing arts.

In 2015, the Clown Band started the George F. Wilson Memorial Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation for Mason County. The fund was named after “Big George,” who served as the band’s street leader for over 65 years and also served for several years as the band’s secretary.

“We wanted to create a legacy that could potentially last beyond the band,” said Rob Alway, the band’s treasurer. The endowment is a way for the Clown Band to have a lasting impact on supporting the arts in Mason County and the surrounding areas.”

Utilizing the annual disbursement from the endowment, the Clown Band awards more than $6,000 in grants annually to public education performing arts programs in Mason, Manistee, Lake, and Oceana counties. Last year, more than $5,900 was awarded jointly to the Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern band programs.

The Clown Band also awards a $1,000 scholarship annually to a performing arts student at West Shore Community College in Scottville. This scholarship is named in memory of Robert F. Pinkerton, Jr., who served as the band’s treasurer for over 50 years.

Since 1966, the Clown Band has awarded over $600,000 in summer program scholarships, now named in memory of founder Raymond J. Schulte. Scholarships are open to middle and high school students from Michigan who wish to enroll in a summer performing arts program, such as Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp or Interlochen Center for the Arts, among others.

While the ultimate purpose behind the band’s student services program is to encourage youth to pursue music as a lifelong endeavor, there is hope that some of the scholarship and grant recipients consider joining the band.

“Our organization is open to anyone who has a minimum of a high school aptitude in music,” said Herb Early, president of the band. “We welcome guests to perform with us. After performing a season with the band, they are eligible to apply for voting membership. To maintain voting membership, you must show up at least once a year. We have over 150 members, ranging in age from 15 to 101.”

Raymond J. Schulte Scholarship applications for middle and high school students attending summer music programs are accepted each year from April 1 through May 14, and awards are announced by May 28. Questions about the scholarship program may be directed to

The Scottville Clown Band is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization incorporated in 1974 and based in Scottville. To learn more about the Band, apply for a scholarship, or inquire about joining, go to Scottville Clown Band.