Woman with a scarf tied around her neck smiles softly.
Deputy Director, Programs & Interim Accessibility Coordinator
Two men, one in a wheelchair, and two women, one with an arm amputation, are on a stage. Title of the report between their heads, "Art in the Service of Understanding."

We are pleased to present the summary of learning from Art in the Service of Understanding, a convening held March 10 – 12, 2017.  NEFA partnered with HowlRound, and is deeply appreciative of this collaboration that made the event possible, especially the brilliant leadership of Jamie Gahlon, HowlRound’s Senior Creative Producer.  Gratitude is also due to our funders: the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The convening was inspired by five projects that received grants from NEFA’s National Theater Project and National Dance Project since 2010:

  • Healing Wars, led by Liz Lerman
  • Speed Killed my Cousin, led by Linda Parris Bailey and Carpetbag Theater and directed by Andrea Assaf
  • ReEntry, led by KJ Sanchez and American Records Theater
  • Basetrack LIVE, led by Anne Hamburger and En Garde Productions
  • to go again, led by Axis Dance Company and choreographed by Joe Goode

Performances of these works framed the discussion during the three-day convening which was attended by over 75 participants representing a range of backgrounds, professional areas, and relationships to the topic including: artists, active military personnel, veterans, arts presenters, health care practitioners and funders.

Art in the Service of Understanding aimed to:

  • Advance knowledge of the role of art in building bridges between military and civilian communities
  • Frame methodologies for artist-military collaborations
  • Focus stakeholders on priorities for further investment in this field of work.

NEFA’s desired outcomes were:

  • A shared understanding of why participants come to this work, and a sense of community amongst participants;
  • A shared understanding of how to break down assumptions and build trust between artists, arts presenters, and military communities that don’t often partner;
  • And clarity on practices and shared learning from practitioners working in this field so that they can be shared more widely.

Maureen White documented the full convening, and has synthesized the learning into a report that we believe addresses these outcomes and will further the important efforts of artists in creating work in deep collaboration with military and veterans’ communities. 

Read the report >>