Art in the Service of Understanding: Bridging Artists, Military, Veterans, and Civilian Communities

From March 10-12, 2017 The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) partnered with HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community based at Emerson College, to convene invited key stakeholders from the arts, healthcare, and military communities together for deep discussion on practices, learning, challenges and impact around creating and presenting arts projects addressing military and veterans issues. The goal was to advance the investigation of art in building bridges between military and civilian communities, methodologies for artist-military collaborations, and to explore the case for further investment.

 Slideshow photos by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA and Ann Wicks/NEFA.

Please note that while this convening was invitation-only, we livestreamed the bulk of it on HowlRound TV. Find the link to the video archive below. 


Liz Lerman's Healing Wars. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Please note this agenda is subject to change. Everything with an asterisk (*) was livestreamed on HowlRound TV. Find the full video archive here. Download this agenda

A note on the discussion session formats:
Each of the four 90 minute discussion sessions will be set up as follows: there will be an inner circle of chairs at a table and a large outer circle of chairs surrounding the inner circle. The first 45 minutes will be a conversation among selected participants and a moderator at the inner circle, while the rest of the participants listen from the outer circle. The following 45 minutes will be opened up for moderated full group response and discussion around what was just said. Specific prompts will be sent to inner circle participants prior to the convening.

Friday, March 10, 2017
11:00am-12:00pm Registration

12:00-12:45pm Lunch (provided) and Welcome*

12:45-2:15pm Introductions*

2:15pm-2:30pm Break

2:30-4:00pm Case Study: Discussion and Excerpts from Healing Warsby Liz Lerman

4:00-4:15pm Break

4:15-5:45pm Session #1: Artists' Perspective*
Connecting with Military and Veterans Communities—Building Trust and Getting Access

  • Inner Circle Participants: Roman Baca, Megan Carney, Teo Castellanos, Joe Goode, Tara Mallen, Victoria Marks, Marty Pottenger, Peter Snoad, Helen Stolzfus, Anthony Torres
  • Facilitator: P. Carl

5:45-6:00pm Travel to dinner

6:00-8:00pm Dinner at Central Bistro, 101 Arch St #200 (provided)

8:00pm Case Study: Discussion & Reading of Carpetbag Theatre’s Speed Killed My Cousin by Linda Parris-Bailey, directed by Andrea Assaf

Carpetbag Theatre's Speed Killed My Cousin. Photo by Kacey Anisa. 
American Records' ReEntry. Photo by Mark Garvin. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017
9:00-9:30am Coffee & Tea (provided)

9:30-10:30am Case Study: Excerpts from American Records' ReEntry by KJ Sanchez and Emily Ackerman and Discussion*

10:30-10:45am Break

10:45am-12:15pm Session #2: Veterans, Military & Veterans’ Service Programs Perspective*
Steps Toward Building Common Language Between Military Communities and Artists

  • Inner Circle Participants: Umoja Abdul-Ahad, Nolen Bivens, Madison Cario, Maurice Decaul, LTC (Ret) Arthur DeGroat, Dr. Patricia Jones, Sam Pressler, Marete Wester
  • Facilitator: P. Carl

12:15-1:15pm Lunch (provided)

1:15-2:45pm Session #3: Military Healthcare Practitioners, VA, and Art Therapists’ Perspective*
What Artists Need to Know About Trauma in Working with Military and Veterans’ Communities

  • Inner Circle Participants: Brittany Costa, Dr. Scot Engel, Dr. Sara Kass, CAPT Moira McGuire, Jeremy Nobel, Bill O’Brien, Dr. Michelle Stefanelli, Rebecca Vaudreuil, Melissa Walker, Dr. Lisa Wong
  • Facilitator: David Dower

2:45-3:00pm Break

3:00-4:00pm Case Study: Discussion and Presentation from En Garde Arts' Basetrack Live, created by Edward Bilous, directed by Seth Bockley*

4:00-4:15pm Break

4:15-5:45pm Session #4: Arts Presenters Perspective*
Connecting Artists, Military, Veteran, and Civilian Audiences

  • Inner Circle Participants: Madeline Bell, Ty Furman, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Margaret Lawrence, Carla Peterson, Michael Reed, Robert Richter, Clyde Valentin, Ruth Waalkes
  • Facilitator: David Dower

6:00pm Group Dine Arounds (optional, on your own) 

 US Marines with 1st Ballation 8th Marines, Bravo Company, 1st Platoon construct a new building at Combat Outpost 7171, Helmand Province on October 26, 2010. En Garde Arts' Basetrack Live. Photo by Balazs Gardi.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

8:30-9:00am Coffee & Tea (provided)

9:00-10:00am Affinity Break Out Groups

10-10:25am Break Out Report Backs Groups 1-5*

10:30-11:30am Case Study: Discussion and Performance by AXIS Dance Company of to go againchoreographed by Joe Goode*

11:30am-12pm Closing and Next Steps*

AXIS Dance Companys' to go again. Photo by Richard Finkelstein.


  • Download reading suggested by other convening participants here. 
  • Read more about 55 word stories here


Art in the Service of Understanding had leadership support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.