Creative Forces announces grants for arts engagement projects to support military-connected people

Date Published: May 30, 2024
A large group of adults standing and smiling in an art gallery. Two people are kneeling. There is a black man on the left wearing a formal military uniform.
Graduates of the 2023 Veterans Workshop Series and program alumni gather at the opening reception of Through Their Lens: Personal Projects by Veterans at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) in January 2024. A 2024 Community Engagement Grant will support CPAC’s Veterans Workshop Series. Photo courtesy of Colorado Photographic Arts Center

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, is pleased to announce the 2024 Creative Forces Community Engagement grant recipients. Forty-one organizations are recommended for awards totaling $769,136. These community-based arts projects will address the distinct experiences, challenges, and strengths of military-connected individuals through the arts. The grant program, now in its third year, continues to expand the work of arts engagement into more communities nationwide. View the complete list of recipients and projects.

These Creative Forces projects provide important opportunities for military-connected individuals and communities to improve resilience and well-being through arts engagement.

Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD
Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts

“These Creative Forces projects provide important opportunities for military-connected individuals and communities to improve resilience and well-being through arts engagement,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Arts and culture are essential to healing, creating connections, and developing healthy communities where all people can realize their full potential.”

Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs that seeks to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. The Creative Forces Community Engagement projects serve a broad population of military-connected people, including active-duty service members, guardsmen, reservists, veterans, military and veteran families, as well as caregivers and healthcare workers providing care for military service members and veterans.

“With these newest Creative Forces projects, we will continue to see how engaging with art creates a path for emotional expression and provides a sense of community and connection, making it a vital component of holistic health care,” said Todd Stein, president and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance. “We’re honored to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts to bring these opportunities to new military-connected communities across the country.”

These projects will also serve as a platform for research to improve understanding of how arts engagement and non-clinical programming can advance creative expression, build social connectedness, improve resilience, and support successful life transitions for our military.

Each grant project includes at least two organizations or individual artists that are partnering to accomplish the goals of the project. Matching grants are awarded in two tiers, “emerging” and “advanced,” which reflect the capacity of the project at the time of the application. Grant recipients can work in healthcare, community, or virtual settings. For anyone interested in learning more about this work or in creating arts programming to serve their military communities, see this report on community partnerships that provided arts-related services for military-connected individuals.

Examples of projects supported in this round of funding include:

Anchorage Concert Association in Alaska

Anchorage Concert Association in Alaska, along with their community partners, will expand on their monthly series of Community Café events that bring together local artists, active-duty military and veterans experiencing TBI and/or PTSD, and their families and caregivers. Activities will explore healing through songwriting and music performance, allowing participants to discover community arts opportunities they can continue to engage with after they leave the military.

Canton Museum of Art in Ohio

Canton Museum of Art in Ohio, in collaboration with the Pegasus Farm’s Military and First Responders Center, will offer a series of free art classes led by an experienced teaching artist who is also a military spouse. The Alpha Romeo Tango (ART) program will culminate with a community exhibit featuring the work of Stark County veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard and Reserve.

Greentrike in Washington

Greentrike in Washington will bring children and their parents/caregivers together at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for a play-based arts education program called Art Sparks. Curated and creative activities support the unique needs of military families through connection, community, and healing.

Marshall University in West Virginia

Marshall University in West Virginia will bring together university theater students and community military veterans, overseen by Third Rail Projects (TRP), in a collaboration called War Comes Home. The project, inspired by a West Virginia Humanities Council program that uses humanities texts to help veterans process their experiences, seeks to create an immersive theater production that will invite audience members to experientially connect with veterans’ stories.

Mental Health Connecticut (MHC)

Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) is partnering with Homes for the Brave to offer MHC’s Art of Wellbeing program to veterans and their families. MHC will offer two 8-week trauma-informed workshops which will explore how creative expression leads to good health and how the act of being well is in itself an art form.

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