Accessibility Statement

Program Evaluation - Key Findings 

Community arts providers who offered programming and the military-connected individuals who participated reported a range of benefits for participants:

• Improved mental health and/or quality of life
• Increased sense of community 
• Improved artistic skills
• Increased empowerment 

Learn more about benefits for military-connected participants

Organizations implementing Community Connections projects reported:

• Increased capacity and commitment to serve military-connected communities 
• Improved communication with clinical providers 
• Improved collaboration among arts organizations
• Increased community awareness of the benefits of the arts 

Learn more about outcomes for organizations carrying out community engagement programs

Community Arts Engagement Activities

Girl smiling with paint on her hands.
Family Day at Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center

In 2017-2018, Creative Forces launched its community arts engagement efforts with nine summits to bring together military and arts communities in areas near Creative Forces clinical sites. These summits provided opportunities for networking, identifying the needs of the local military community, and generating ideas for community arts engagement to address those needs. State arts agencies in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Washington state, and the National Capital Region (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) co-hosted these events.

In response to the lessons learned, relationships forged, and needs identified at the summits, Creative Forces funded ten Community Connections projects taking place from 2018 through 2020 near existing clinical Creative Forces sites.

These projects sought to improve health, wellness, and quality of life for military-connected individuals, including service members, veterans, families, and caregivers. Projects included a range of arts-related services, from pop-up musical performances by service members, veterans, and local musicians to creative writing workshops, and trainings that increased understanding between the arts and military communities.

Learn more about the Community Connections projects

Community Connections Projects Study

People sitting in a circle with drums.
Veterans' Creative Arts Expo attendees participate in a drum circle. The event was a collaboration between Resounding Joy, Combat Arts San Diego, Vets Community Connections, San Diego Veterans Coalition, The Veterans Art Project (VETART), and So Say We All. Photo courtesy of Resounding Joy

During the implementation of the Community Connections projects, an external program evaluation team conducted a study of projects to inform future Creative Forces programming and the larger field of community-based arts programming for military-connected populations.

While there were commonalities across projects, each project was unique and presented a rich opportunity for Creative Forces to study community arts engagement programs for military-connected populations.

The Creative Forces Community Connections Projects Study used a case study design, a cross-case analysis, and mixed-methods. Research questions guided the study and provided structure for the report. Data collection used a mixed-methods approach, incorporating qualitative and quantitative program-level and site-level data.

In addition to describing project implementation and outcomes, the study offered lessons learned when considering how to enhance community arts engagement programs and to help guide future federal investments to support military-connected populations through community-based arts engagement programs.

Lessons learned that emerged from the Community Connections Projects Study centered around the following:
• Partnerships
• The value of ongoing programming engagement
• The need to provide leadership opportunities for participants
• The importance of planning for program sustainability
• The need to develop understanding of military culture
• The challenge of balancing person-centered programming with evaluation needs
• Understanding that many factors influence individuals' participation

Learn more about the lessons learned through the evaluation activities

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