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

woman and man sitting down playing guitar together

Creative arts therapist Danielle Vetro Kalseth performs with Staff Sergeant Cory Sheldon as part of the Creative Forces Summit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska in February 2017. Photo by Michael Conti.

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts is launching the next phase of Creative Forces® by funding 10 Community Connections projects at 11 Creative Forces sites to develop community-based arts programs for military populations. These projects use the creative and healing benefits of the arts to promote health and wellness among service members and veterans as well as their families and caregivers. Each project receives up to $50,000 to create its own programming and materials. “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.” Community Connections projects are a result of arts and military summits held at Creative Forces locations from 2017 to 2018 that brought together local arts and military communities. Those events built bridges between those two communities and helped to establish support networks that assist with a successful transition from medical treatment to civilian life through arts practices. Community Connections projects respond to the lessons learned, relationships forged, and needs identified at those summits.  Creative Forces sites hosting Community Connections projects are Anchorage, Alaska; San Diego County, California; Fort Carson and Colorado Springs, Colorado; Tampa and Gainesville, Florida; Bethesda, Maryland; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Killeen, Texas; Fort Belvoir and Portsmouth, Virginia; and Tacoma and Olympia, Washington.   Each project is distinct, reflecting the needs and assets of the different locations. 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. Project descriptions are here. About Creative Forces 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 in 2017, anchored by medical facilities housed on military bases and Veteran Affairs hospitals. Administrative support for the initiative is provided by Americans for the Arts. Creative Forces places creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at the 11 clinical sites located 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