Exploring the Role of the Arts in Recovery, Transition & Transformation across the Military Continuum

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The 4th National Summit: Reintegration & Resilience convened in Tampa during the first week of February, bringing military and civilian leaders together in sessions and dialogue to define the blueprint for collective arts and military action through 2020, and to engage with each other in a 2-day Workshop and Practitioner Exchange. 

The 4th National Summit marked many firsts in the history of National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military convenings.  It was the first time a convening has been held outside of the Washington, D.C. area and the first time a convening was paired with a major performing arts festival, thanks to our partners Art2Action and the University of South Florida, with major support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  Participants in the Summit and the community at large took part in the R&R Festival, which featured full-length and excepted works in heatre, music, and dance by, for, about, and with Veterans.  The visual arts were represented in the community through the Veterans Art Exhibit along the Art Walk adjacent to Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts, curated to coincide with the Summit. After the exhibition, the Straz Center generously donated the outdoor art panels to VA Centers in Connecticut and Tampa, and to the Veterans Art Center of Tampa Bay on behalf of the Veteran artists.

Sessions at the Summit focused on explorations of the core themes identified at the National Roundtable for Arts, Health, & Well-being across the Military Continuum held at Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, VA in December.  Panels and facilitated discussions helped shed more light on the action the National Initiative will be focusing on through 2020, including the imperative for strengthening Public/Private partnerships, supporting mechanisms and strategies for sustained localized action, and increasing focus and resources on the growing needs of women service members and Veterans.  As an example, Session II Supporting the Needs of Women Veterans Through the Arts, helped identify many specific challenges of reintegration and recovery that face women Veterans including those who return from deployment to the immediate role of primary caretaker for spouse and family before they can address their own needs.

The R&R Arts Festival included the intergenerational story of a female soldier struggling with moral injury as told in the play Speed Killed My Cousin, a charged Touch: The Love Concert with Michael Trotter, Jr. and The War & Treaty, and Re/generate: Dance! featuring performances by Makoto Hirano, Roman Baca’s Exit 12 Dance Company, and Liz Lerman.  The Summit, Workshop/Practitioner Exchanges and Festival culminated in a Veterans Open Mic Night in Ybor City featuring the Combat Hippies, Maurice Decaul, and Isaura Ramirez.

For information on the 4th National Summit’s Session Speakers, Workshop Leaders, and artists please visit the NIAHM webpage for Events and Media.  Media links and video will be added as they become available.

Americans for the Arts is especially grateful to Loreen Arbus for her leadership and support of the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military's 4th National Summit.