R&R Arts Festival

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In February 2017, Art2Action, Americans for the Arts, and the University of South Florida (USF) will co-host the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (NIAHM), 4th National Summit, focusing on the Role of the Arts in Recovery, Transition & Transformation. For the first time in the history of NIAHM’s National Summit convenings, the 2017 gathering will be held in Tampa, FL, and will include a festival of original performance works by, for, about and with veterans, organized and curated by Art2Action. This ground-breaking event will help to place veterans’ stories—and the work of artists engaged in creation with them—at the center of an extraordinary cross-sector convening, designed to bring more than 200 military, veteran, and civilian practitioners, researchers and policy makers together to share knowledge, learn new skills and help inform a nationwide vision for increasing access to the arts and creative arts therapies for all of America’s military service members, Veterans, their families and caregivers. Additional partners include The Carpetbag Theatre, and New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) “Art in the Service of Understanding: New Perspectives from Artists and the Military Community” program.  The R&R Arts Festival is made possible by the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Fund for National Projects grant program.



6:00 pm – Opening Ceremonies – Welcome by USF, Ar2Action and Americans for the Arts, featuring a Keynote Address by Bob Lynch.  Free & Open to the public @ the USF Oval Theatre, Marshall Center.

7:30 pm – Speed Killed My Cousin, by Linda Parris-Bailey and The Carpetbag Theatre, directed by Andrea Assaf, featuring Andresia “Real” Moseley.  An original play about an African American woman soldier who returns from Iraq and struggles with PTSD, Moral Injury, the issue of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and her family’s history with vehicular suicide. This exceptional work will open the festival, helping to ground the Summit dialogues in the complex intersections of race, gender, and multi-generational military service in families.  Followed by a post-show dialogue with the artists @ USF Theatre 1


1-2:30 pm – National Summit on Arts & Health in the Military:  Artists’ Plenary – Featuring Liz Lerman, Linda Parris-Bailey (The Carpetbag Theatre), Teo Castellanos, Maurice Decaul (TCG), Makoto Hirano, Michael Trotter Jr. (The War & Treaty), Roman Baca (Exit 12 Dance), and visual artist Saori Murphy.  Free & Open to the public @ USF Alumni Center, Traditions Hall.

7:30 pm – TOUCH: The Love Concert, a collaboration with the USF School of Music and the iTouch Band, featuring “Indelible: Veteran Loves Stories” – a new composition based on the real stories of veterans in Tampa.  With a special pre-show performance by The War & Treaty music ensemble, founded by Iraq war veteran & singer-songwriter Michael Trotter, Jr.  In partnership with Military Support Outreach (MSO), proceeds benefit homeless veterans in the Tampa Bay area. @ USF School of Music, Concert Hall.


9:00 am-4:30 pm – Professional Development Workshops: Practitioners Exchange. Open to National Summit participants.  Advanced registration required.

7:30 pm – Re/Generate: Dance! featuring excerpts and short works by nationally acclaimed artists, performed by a mixed-ability ensemble of professional dancers and veterans, including:  Healing Wars by Liz Lerman, Exit 12 Dance, Makoto Hirano, Dwayne Scheuneman & Merry Lynn Morris! @ USF Theatre 1


10:00 am-2:00 pm – Professional Development Workshops: Practitioners Exchange. Open to National Summit participants. Advance registration required.

5:00-8:00 pm – Veterans Community Open Mic, featuring special guest artists, Combat Hippies, an all-veteran performance ensemble that promotes “Post-Traumatic Growth,” directed by professional artist Teo Castellanos.  Also featuring poet Maurice Decaul, and veteran stand-up comedian Isaura Ramirez!  With co-hosts from The Carpetbag Theatre, DJ Cotton, and surprise guests!!  Not to be missed!  FREE & open to the public.  FREE coffee/tea for Veterans!  Tre Amici @ The Bunker, Ybor City, Tampa.



REGENERATION: 1 : an act or the process of regenerating; the state of being regenerated. 2 : spiritual renewal or revival. 3 : restoration of a body, bodily part, or biological system after injury, or as a normal process … Regeneration is renewal through internal processes … Something which embodies this action can be described as regenerativeRegeneration involves remaking … what is regenerate: to improve a place or system, especially by making it more active or successful.”

The R&R Festival: From Recovery to Regeneration is a unique national festival of  performances created by, for, about & with Veterans.  In conjunction with the National Summit on Arts & Health in the Military, the festival will showcase a spectrum of practices and ways of creating new performance work that is rooted in the real-life experiences of military service members and Veterans. It will include theatre, music and dance works about veterans created by professional companies; by veterans who are now professional artists; and co-created with Veterans from the community, in partnership with professional artists.

The R&R Festival will feature one evening-length work, as well as shorter works and excerpts, that illuminate the issues and challenges present in Veteran recovery and reintegration. These performances will provide an important opportunity for National Summit attendees, as well as audiences from the Tampa Bay area, to see full productions and showcases, to experience creative processes facilitated by leading national artists, and to hear directly from Veterans about their personal experiences in co-creation.

In particular, it will feature artists who have demonstrated a multi-year commitment to this work, either because they are Veterans themselves, or have been significantly engaged in co-creation with veterans over time—theatre and dance artists who are leaders in their fields, in the overlapping sectors of community-based or socially engaged practice, art and civic dialogue, cultural development or diplomacy, or who exemplify first-voice representation.

R&R Festival performances and events are open to the public. Tickets will be available through the USF College of the Arts box office.  Workshops will be by registration only, with limited availability.

For more information about Art2Action & The Carpetbag Theatre’s on-going work with veterans, please visit our Veterans in Tampa page.


Since its inception, the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military has endeavored to convene conversations among artists, arts professionals, creative arts therapists, caregivers, researchers and policy makers across the country. To date, more than 800 military/veteran and civilian stakeholders have been engaged in the Summit and Roundtable conversations. The findings and recommendations collected in these conversations were summarized in the seminal report, the Arts, Health, and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum – White Paper and Framing a National Plan for Action, published by Americans for the Arts in 2013.

Yet, we have not yet had an opportunity to bring these groups together in a way that centers on and deeply investigates the impact of artistic practice for patients and caregivers, artists and therapists; we rarely get to see full productions of the artistic work, experience the processes that professional artists bring, or hear directly from veterans about their experiences in co-creation. This project aims to address these challenges in a cross-sector exchange, by bringing artists, creative arts therapists, and healthcare professionals into conversation on arts practices aiding in recovery, reintegration, resilience and regeneration. By providing information, training and networking across the complex array of current and potential providers and supporters, we hope to ensure quality arts practices and services are in place for communities across the United States, to help our servicemen and women, veterans and their families deal with the key physical and psychological health issues that emerge, and forge a life path to health and well-being through the arts.

The National Summit is an invitation-only event, offered free to participants. Participants are responsible for their own transportation and lodging. The event brings together a cross-sector group of practitioners, researchers and leaders from the military, Veteran, public and private sectors, civilian non-profit arts, health and social sectors, as well as interested individuals, advocates and administrators who support greater access to the arts and creative arts therapies for the military and Veteran populations. Space is limited and first come/first served; not all requests can be honored, and participants may be placed on a waiting list. To request an invitation, email Marete Wester, Americans for the Arts Senior Policy Director: mwester@artsusa.org


Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, dedicated to representing and serving local communities and to creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Since 2011, Americans for the Arts has led the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military (NIAHM), a collaborative effort that seeks to advance the policy, practice, and quality use of the arts and creativity as tools for health in the military; raise visibility, understanding, and support of arts and health in the military; and make the arts as tools for health available to active duty military, military families, and veterans. Among NIAHM’s advisors, partners and collaborators include the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Defense Office of Warrior Care Policy, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Veterans Health Administration, and NIH’s National Center of Complementary & Integrative Health, in addition to national, state and local arts, humanities, and veterans service nonprofits; state and local cultural agencies; and universities around the country.

The R&R Festival: From Recovery to Regeneration is made possible by the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s 2016 Fund for National Projects grant program.   www.ddcf.org