Community Connections Projects are Next Phase of National Endowment for the Arts’ Creative Forces

Service member plays keyboard with guitarist and a dancer with a mask

SGT George Tyler McGibbon, U.S. Army (ret), performs a song he wrote as part of his music therapy, accompanied by Creative Forces music therapist Megan Wong and dance/movement therapist Liz Freeman at the Capitol Region Summit, May 14, 2018. Photos by Jerry Frishman

Washington, DC— The National Endowment for the Arts is launching the next phase of its Creative Forces® program by funding Community Connections projects to develop community-based arts programs for military populations. These projects will advance the role of the arts in health and wellness for service members and veterans as well as their families and caregivers. Each project receives up to $50,000 to create its own programming, training, and materials.

Taking place around Creative Forces sites across the country, the Community Connections projects respond to lessons learned, relationships forged, and needs identified from recent arts and military summits. Each project is distinct, reflecting the needs and assets of the different communities. Projects will include documentation of their progress and generate materials to be placed in an online National Resource Center that will be accessible to others interested in developing their own arts and military programming.

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 and the state and local arts agencies. The initiative began in military medical facilities via the integration of creative arts therapies into treatment plans for military service members with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions. It expanded to 11 Creative Forces sites, anchored by medical facilities housed on military bases and Veteran Affairs hospitals.

Around the Creative Forces sites, from 2017 to 2018, the National Endowment for the Arts collaborated with the state and local arts agencies to produce arts and military summits. Those events built bridges between the military and local arts organizations and helped to establish support networks that assist with a successful transition from medical treatment to civilian life through arts practices.

“Serving our military who have served us honorably is a privilege for the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “By further understanding how the arts improve health and well-being, we will help enrich the lives of our military personnel and veterans around the nation.”

An outline of the projects is below with full descriptions in the Related Content section.

Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska State Council on the Arts in connection with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson 
Community Connections Project: Project details are being finalized at this time. When those details are confirmed, the project description will be posted on the Creative Forces Community page

San Diego County, California
Resounding Joy in connection with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Community Connections Project: A series of pop-up events, featuring performances by service members, veterans, and local musicians, will connect the arts and military communities. Partners include Combat Arts, VetArt, So Say We All, San Diego Veteran's Coalition, and Vets' Community Connections.

Fort Carson and Colorado Springs, Colorado
Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region in partnership with Colorado Creative Industries—Colorado's state arts agency— in connection with Fort Carson 
Community Connections Project: The development of trainings to increase understanding between the arts and military communities, and a website that will facilitate connections between local artists and military populations interested in creative arts therapy and/or cultural engagement experiences.

Tampa, Florida
Straz Center for the Performing Arts in connection with James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital 
Community Connections Project: With a focus on sharing the veteran experience, VetArtSpan will include arts activities, podcasts, videos, veteran-civilian dialogs, a website, and presentations.

Bethesda, Maryland
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in connection with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center 
Community Connections Project: An artist residency program will include theater exercises and workshops with service members, veterans, and family; plus staff, students, and faculty at NICoE/Walter Reed, culminating in a theater production.

Jacksonville, North Carolina
Jacksonville-Onslow Council for the Arts in connection with Camp Lejeune
Community Connections Project: Weekly open studio time with accompanying exhibitions and writing workshops both on and off base.

Killeen, Texas
Texas Folklife in connection with Fort Hood 
Community Connections Project: A workshop series in storytelling and training in audio production will result in audio documentaries shared publicly.

VSA Texas in connection with Fort Hood 
Community Connections Project: A series of eight-week writing classes in poetry, fiction, and personal narrative, followed by a public event.

Tacoma and Olympia, Washington
Washington State Arts Commission in connection with Joint Base Lewis-McChord 
Community Connections Project: A three-prong effort including the Music Works 4 Veterans program to provide music-making opportunities on and off base; a multi-day training to increase understanding between the arts and military communities; and a conference for artists and arts organizations about working with the military and veteran communities. 

Fort Belvoir and Portsmouth, Virginia
Virginia Commission for the Arts in connection with Fort Belvoir and Navy Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA
Community Connections Project: Developing two networks of local arts organizations, each network surrounding one of the two Creative Forces clinics that will focus on how to better coordinate with their respective clinic as well as among themselves to provide a pipeline of community support, arts activities and services for active duty military service members, veterans, and their family and caregivers.

About Creative Forces
Creative Forces serves the special needs of military patients and veterans with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers. Administrative support for the initiative is provided by Americans for the Arts.

The program places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at 11 clinical sites throughout the country, plus a telehealth program, and increases access to community arts activities to promote health, wellness and quality of life for military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers. In addition, Creative Forces is investing in research on the impacts and benefits—physical, emotional, economic—of these innovative treatment methods. Visit the NEA’s website for published research as well as the more information on the clinical research strategic framework and five-year agenda.

Creative Forces® is a registered trademark of the National Endowment for the Arts. 

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.


Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692