Move Well with Communities

When we think of health and wellness, we think about the mind, body and spirit. We imagine wholeness. … Why? Because every day, we have the opportunity to make conscious decisions about what we allow into our bodies. This includes not only what we eat, drink, watch, and listen to, but also our thoughts. To us at heidi duckler dance (HDD), wellness is how we realize our self image, and as artists, it is the overall practice we promote in our daily lives. HDD transforms non-traditional spaces, provides learning opportunities by engaging diverse communities, and promotes the concept that the arts can change our vision of the world and of ourselves. Through working with HDD’s Artistic Director, Heidi Duckler, I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the power of utilizing all types of venues while simultaneously using arts from across different disciplines to uncover powerful stories. This process has allowed me to see how I, as an artist and an administrator, can incorporate wellness into our work. 

The Arts Say Thank You to Our Veterans and Active Duty Military

As we celebrate both Thanksgiving and National Veterans and Military Families Month this year, we honor the service and sacrifice of America’s more than 18 million veterans across the country. Arts and humanities events and programs remind us of the contributions that veterans and active duty military and their families have made and the power of joining together through the shared experience of art. We recognize the growing number of state and local-level arts and military initiatives that are creating greater access and more opportunities across the country. These programs unite us, bridging the civilian/military divide in a non-partisan way that only the arts can, in communities both large and small. And these efforts aren’t just one-time events; they represent long-term commitments from artists and arts groups to serve those who have served.

Community Boots on the Ground: Building Healing Arts and Military Community Relationships

For several years now, I’ve had the great honor to work with Americans for the Arts and its National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military to convene and advocate the value of the arts in health and healing nationwide, particularly its significance to the military community. Through this transforming experience, I’ve seen thousands of individuals—boots on the ground—who are building healing arts and military networks, which offer civilian and military community members greater opportunities to regain health and wellbeing and to build resiliency in response to the reality of increasing trauma occurring within our communities. A ubiquitous presence in the community ecosystem uniquely positions the arts to lead the movement to create healing networks and non-stigmatized environments that both afford respect and foster community-wide resilience and growth for individuals facing the invisible wounds of war. 

CEO Reflections: Fifth Third Demonstrates How the Arts Heal

The Business Committee on the Arts, an organization started by David Rockefeller in 1966, celebrated the many ways that the arts bring people together on Tuesday, Oct. 2 in New York City. We at ArtsWave were proud that Cincinnati once again “made the list” with our own Top 10 Business Supporting the Arts in America: Fifth Third Bank. In the midst of stories of arts engagement and creative partnerships that characterized the remarks of each honoree, Fifth Third’s SVP and Chief Administrative Officer Teresa Tanner shared something particularly poignant and timely with the guests. Teresa described how art is being used to foster healing after the horrific mass shooting in the bank’s lobby in September. In the days that followed, bank leaders decided to cover the lobby’s broken windows with huge canvas boards. To show solidarity with one another and build strength in numbers to move forward, employees were invited to dip their hands in paint and leave their handprints on the canvases. Hundreds of colorful handprints now adorn the space and remind Fifth Third employees that they are “Fifth Third Strong” and “Cincinnati Strong.” This simple activity became a profound and hopeful action, something that brought the company together after unspeakable loss.

Growing New Mexico Arts and the Military Initiative: Finding a Heart for Veterans

In a state with two million people spread out over a landmass that’s 10 times the size of New Jersey, the challenges of bringing people together in one place are obvious. Yet we know from experience that the time invested in traveling outside the state capital to cities and rural communities is worth the effort, and is indeed the only way to build trust between neighbors for a new concept. Fortunately, we could rely on the National Endowment for the Arts’ Creative Forces and Americans for the Arts’ National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military for guidance. In the last three years we have held face-to-face meetings with 90+ new individuals at three roundtable discussions—two in Albuquerque, one in Roswell. In the last two grant cycles, we have funded five new projects with a veteran and/or military focus. These numbers are modest, and we acknowledge, even embrace, the “baby-steps” method of outreach.

Search Our New and Improved Arts Services Directories

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You asked, and we listened: Our online Arts Services Directory has expanded to include searchable, topic-driven sub-directories. The new and improved directories will allow you to quickly find all types of arts organizations throughout the United States, as well as narrow your search to specific interest areas.

Introducing the Arts + Social Impact Explorer

To improve the perceived public value of the arts, we must connect into the places where people find value. To get members of our community to stand up and say, “We want more,” we have to tell them why “more” matters. If we’re trying to create advocates for arts and culture among the members of communities, we need to increase the occasions where thinking about the arts makes sense. Because the truth is, the arts make more things possible, from better education to greater health outcomes to a more civically-engaged citizenry—it’s just that people don’t always see the connection to the arts when change happens. Knowing people prioritize core issue areas like education, job security, housing, public safety, and health and wellness, how do we show the important ways the arts intersect with their day-to-day lives? At Americans for the Arts, our answer is the Arts + Social Impact Explorer.

Vet Voices: A Healing Journey into Theatre Arts

Early in 2017, TheatreWorks Florida was interested in a new focus group for their highly successful community outreach program, TheatreCares. Through a quick internet search of “arts,” “health,” and “military,” I fell down a rabbit hole of information that led to an incredible year and a half journey of discovery to combine theatre arts with military veteran health needs. The outcome is our outstanding arts and health in the military program called Vet Voices, which provides veterans an opportunity for positive self-awareness and self-discovery in a creative “safe space” environment and allows veterans affected by war to explore the theatre arts and ultimately find healing through creativity.

US Conference of Mayors’ 2018 Arts & Military Resolution

Funding Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum

Friday, July 20, 2018

The resolution cites the potential of creative arts therapies and artist directed programs to positively impact the healthcare spending concerns, quality of care issues, and healthcare needs of active military and veteran populations.

Combat Medic to Ceramic Artist: Art as Therapy

 

I’m a disabled (differently-abled) Operation: Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veteran who found clay after my medical retirement from the US Army in 2011, where I served as a combat medic. It has turned into a business, a passion, and my art has taken on a new purpose. I am passionate about how much my sculpting has helped me and I have an even deeper passion for sharing this amazing self-care concept/activity with as many people as I can. It is important to remember that art therapy is very different than art as therapy, which I teach and practice for self-care. I feel that the daily activities we do at home for self-care can be just as important as the work done in the therapist’s office. We must learn to be okay with taking our health into our own hands, including our mental health. It’s up to each and every one of us to advocate for what we know is in our best interest.

It is important to remember that art therapy is very different than art as therapy. 

Schools Must Be Safe Places for Students to Learn and Pursue Their Passions

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A nation plagued by school shootings watched the horror play out yet again in Southeast Texas when eight Santa Fe High School students and two teachers were killed and 10 others were wounded recently in the worst school shooting since the February assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many of these victims were in an arts classroom making art at the time. Schools must be safe places for students to learn and pursue their passions in the arts and beyond. 

Veterans Supporting Each other Through the Arts

Denver’s VFW Post 1 Commissions Glass Poppies from Tacoma’s Museum of Glass “Hot Shop Heroes”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Michael Mitchel, post commander of VFW Post 1 in Denver, Colorado commissioned 100 glass poppies from Hot Shop Heroes at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 2018. The poppies will be available for purchase to support the revival and renovation of Denver’s VFW Post 1, our country’s oldest Veterans of Foreign Wars post and home of the only VFW Post Veterans Arts Council.

A Conversation with Kansas Pioneer Laura Ramberg

Laura Ramberg is a ceramicist, sculptor, and dancer who has been working as an artist in the Lawrence, Kansas community for the past 40 years. A true innovator and creative pioneer, she has taught art classes three times a week at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center in Lawrence for two decades. Working with literally hundreds of students over 20 years, she has witnessed fluctuations in policy, changes in facilities, and the digital revolution in youth culture. She has experienced firsthand how art can help people in crisis in the moment, but also how it can change their lives. Arts Education Council member Margaret Weisbrod Morris sat down with Laura to hear about her experiences working with incarcerated youth.

VSA Texas Distinguished Artist Veterans: A State of Arts & Military Outreach

VSA Texas works with people with disabilities as they access the arts. This can be as a patron of the arts or as an artist. Through our Artworks: Creative Industries program, we meet artists where they are in their hobby or career and act as a resource to move them to where they want to be in that hobby or career. My challenge is to find out what the barriers are for our artists and find ways for each of them to work through those barriers to reach their personal goals. In 2009, we noticed a barrier for Veteran artists within our own services. Veterans in our community were not identifying as artists with disabilities, so they were not entering our art exhibitions or attending our workshops and events. Rather than trying to change their viewpoints, we adapted ours and started programming specifically for Veterans.

The Falling and The Rising

US Army Field Band Connects Civilians and Soldiers Through Opera

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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"The Falling and the Rising" is a new American opera based on the true stories of dozens of active duty soldiers and veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, The Old Guard at Fort Myer, and Fort Meade, Maryland. The opera chronicles the imagined journey inside the mind of a soldier following traumatic brain injuries suffered during a roadside attack, and was first proposed by a tenor in the Soldiers’ Chorus, Staff Sgt. Ben Hilgert.

Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in 2018

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times. The arts are all about stories—often small, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in the “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Yours will be an advocacy visit that is not soon forgotten.

Eight for 2018: New Obstacles and Opportunities in the Arts

Over the first quarter of 2018 I’ve had the great opportunity to spend time listening to the wisdom of my colleagues in the field. From these gatherings, I continue to see first-hand the spectacular array of work and service offered by the non-profit arts community in our country. It is a vibrant, effective, optimistic, inciteful, and growing field that uplifts our communities across the country. Despite challenges in funding and support, the creativity of our arts field surges forward. There are new benchmarks to celebrate and new obstacles to overcome, all leading I hope to new opportunities for the arts. Here are eight observations for 2018.

The Art Is What Heals!

Now in the middle of its fourth year, the Cincinnati Arts Association's Arts in Healing Initiative is integrating performing and visual arts in medical and non-traditional settings. Its mission is to promote community wellness and encourage our community to explore the arts as an active part of healing and ongoing wellness. When asked to write a blog about the program, I questioned if I could give justice to the stories of these artists, and the administrators, medical partners, and participants of the Initiative. Then I remembered the lesson I’ve learned: even the developer of such a program should see herself as a primary participant, too. I’ve had to ask and answer every question, face every barrier, plan and discover the founding perspective: who will the programand the art, impact? First and foremost, this journey requires a belief that art changes lives.

The Positive Power of Art

Everyone should have access to making their life better and living a healthy life. This is where we can all make a difference: advocating to make the benefits of creative activity, arts education, and arts experiences more openly accessible to more people. You might be surprised to know that the arts and health have over 100 years of partnership. Visual art, music, dance, creative writing, dramatic play, and theater have been used for decades to enhance individual experience in hospitals, mental health treatment centers, senior care facilities, emergency rooms, occupational therapy clinics, in pediatric care, and more. Wherever people are in crisis—health or otherwise—creative activities are found. 

Music Therapy for Military Service Members in Alaska

Second Lady Karen Pence Visits Creative Forces Site at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

Friday, February 9, 2018

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Second Lady Karen Pence recently visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, and observed a Creative Forces music therapy group session as part of her national and international initiative, Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART.

Brush, Breath and Line: A Veteran’s Recovery through the Arts

I am a US Army veteran, artist, teacher, creative soul guide, and like all of us—a work in progress. With all of these things that I feel I am, I know that being of service to others has been and will always be a thread in the tapestry of my life. The many journeys within my life always bring new challenges, self-awareness, and growth. It's been 20 years since my first battle with suicidal ideation and major depression. I've had some relapses since then, but with each fight, insights surface and propel me to more self-discovery and deeper healing. It wasn't until after my last relapse four years ago that I discovered what my “service to others” would be, and that my journey of healing through creativity would be born.

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