TN Military, Veterans & the Arts

TN Military, Veterans & the Arts (TNMVA) is an initiative is to encourage organizations serving Tennessee’s military members, veterans, and their families to use the arts as part of the many ways they achieve their goals and provide services to military audiences and to encourage arts organizations to engage military audiences in outcomes-based activities that enhance Tennessee’s communities.

According to the Department of Tennessee Veterans Services’ 2016 Annual Report, Tennessee’s total veteran population is well above 503,000 and more than 218,000 are over the age of 65 years old, which is 43% of the state’s veteran population.

Promoting creative expression through art, music, writing, dance and other artistic modalities help military service members, veterans and their families express themselves in new ways while improving their quality of life.  Individuals with opportunities to express themselves and share their stories can often better navigate the stress of transitioning from communities, being separated from family members or transitioning from military structure to the civilian workplace.  Art, more specifically, offers a nonverbal outlet of expression where many military veterans find their art to become an extension of themselves and their thoughts. This open creativity allows people of all backgrounds and ages to process traumatic experiences from their past and also navigate the visible and invisible challenges they face every day to foster growth and healing.

In Fiscal Year 2019, TNMVA offered a one-time funding for innovative projects that used the arts to support the unique needs of, or address an opportunity for Tennessee’s military members, as well as veterans or their families and caregivers. Successful projects engaged military service members, veterans, and their families through the arts and strived to meet the published outcomes while leveraging the assets from the community in which they exist.

The following organizations have been awarded a TNMVA grant:

Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council: $10,000.00
In partnership with six local arts organizations, the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Program, Montgomery County Veterans Coalition and other Fort Campbell service organizations, the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council will provide a wide variety of arts programming to benefit military members and connecting them to the Clarksville community.

C-MACC Community Multicultural Art Care Center: $8,000.00
Using writing, art, and music, the Art Care team will help veterans and their families located in the rural towns of Madison County and across West Tennessee, express their stories, which will then be published as a book.

The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc.: $8,000.00
The Carpetbag Theatre, partnering with the Mountain Home VA Healthcare System and the Knoxville Veterans Center, will offer veterans the opportunity to experience performances, participate in a facilitated story circle and create their own Digital Story to find wellness and healing through the arts.

East Tennessee Artscapes: $7,500.00
The Veteran Expression Project in Cocke County will include an exhibition of military photographs, artwork and memorabilia culminating in the creation of a mural that will reflect the local veteran’s military experience. Veterans, students from Cocke County High School and volunteers from the community will create the mural.

Operation Song: $7,360.00
The grant will allow Operation Song to expand its Chattanooga programs. With a team of professional songwriters, Operation Song works to empower veterans, active duty military and their families to tell their stories through the process of songwriting.

Borderless Arts Tennessee: $7,000.00
This pilot project partners with the Veterans Recovery Center on the Alvin C York Medical Center and will include performances of My Father’s War with guided discussions, sequential interactive arts education workshops with veterans and presentation of veteran artwork.

Gateway Chamber Orchestra: $6,420.00
The Gateway Chamber Orchestra, a partner with the USO of Fort Campbell, will create the TNMVA Choir, which will be comprised of active military personnel, retirees, their families, and members of the Clarksville community

Town of Decatur: $3,500.00
The Town of Decatur will host two veteran storytelling events. An artist will attend each event to listen to the stories and then visually depict them. This art will then be displayed throughout the community, which has a high military population.

TN Shakespeare Company: $2,220.00
The grant will fund the Feast of Crispian South, a project that is part of a collaboration with the Memphis VA Medical Center, which consists of one-hour sessions with in-patient veterans implementing a strategic combination of theater practices, live performances, and Shakespeare text.

The Tennessee Arts Commission encourages nonprofit military organizations and other nonprofits and local entities of government to apply for funding through the various grant opportunities the Commission offers each year. Grant opportunities that support arts projects working with military communities (including active duty service members, reservists, veterans, and their families) include arts access, arts education, creative placemaking, arts build communities, arts project, and rural arts project.