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Veteran Arts Program

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In partnership with The Carpetbag Theatre Inc., Art2Action developed a robust Veteran Arts Program in Tampa, FL. We began in 2013, in conjunction with the development of Speed Killed My Cousin, a play by Linda Parris-Bailey, and our collaborative Creative Arts Reintegration (CAR) model. That collaboration began us on a multi-year journey, developing, hosting, presenting and producing programs for the Veteran community.


With support from the Alternate ROOTS "Partners in Action" program, we founded the Veteran Community Open Mic at Sacred Grounds Coffee House in September 2013. Since then, the Open Mic has been on-going, featuring local and national guest artists! In 2016, the Open Mic moved to The Bunker Cafe in Ybor City (Tampa), and in 2020, temporarily moved online. In Fall 2021-2022, the Veteran Community Open Mic moved to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, as a quarterly event with visual art exhibitions curated by Paint22, a veteran-led organization that raises awareness about veteran suicide and prevention through the visual arts. The Open Mic will be back in Fall 2023, for a 10th Anniversary celebration! For information and updates on the Veteran Community Open Mic, please sign-up for our E-News!

As part of our offerings for the Veteran community, Art2Action facilitated regular performing arts workshops at the Psychosocial Rehabilitation & Recovery Center (PRRC) of the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital (2014-2019). In Spring 2017, we co-hosted the 4th National Summit on Arts & Health in the Military with Americans for the Arts at the University of South Florida (USF), and presented the first national festival of performances by, for, about and with veterans, the R&R Arts Festival: From Recovery to Regeneration.


In Fall 2017, with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we increased our creative workshop offerings to a weekly series at the PRRC and USF, culminating in the creation of a community-based devised theatre performance titled Chrysalis: A Journey of Transformation, Breaking Through, and the Process of Becoming more Human. In conjunction with this process, a pilot study on the impact of artistic practice on veteran recovery and community integration was conducted by a cross-disciplinary research team from the Center of Innovation on Disability & Rehab Research (CINDRR), a department of the VA, and the USF Psychology department. Chrysalis was remounted in May 2018, in partnership with the University of Tampa Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, as part of Kaleidoscope: A Multidisciplinary Exhibition by Artists of the Military Community, co-presented by Art2Action. The exhibit included Digital Stories by Veterans, facilitated by The Carpetbag Theatre.

This page contains articles, media, links to archival material and more. Learn more below, and visit the Veteran Community Open Mic page, too!


Veterans in Tampa
Veterans Community Open Mic - The War & Treaty
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Speed Killed My Cousin - The Carpetbag Theatre
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R&R Arts Festival - Preview
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2014 Annual Convention: Engaging Military Veterans in Your Community through the Arts
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Speed the CAR: Creative Arts Reintegration by Linda Parris-Bailey & Andrea Assaf

Moral Injury Killed My Cousin by VA therapist, Dr. Lynne A. Santiago, LMHC

Opening New Doors: Reflections On Art and Recovery by Veteran Peer Leader, Cheldyn Donovan


Art in Action at Veterans Open Mic Night — WUSF radio features the Veterans Community Open Mic as part of their “Veterans Coming Home” Series, featuring interviews with Veterans and Peer Leaders, hosted by Andrea Assaf & Linda Parris-Bailey.

INTERVIEW: “An Iraq War Opera Finds A Vein of Empathy” with Iraqi American playwright Heather Raffo & former U.S. Marine Christian Ellis.  Art2Action is very proud to have supported the development of this amazing work, as part of THIS Bridge: Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists Series, in March 2015.

Spotlighting Vets in Tampa with Andrea Assaf on Wise Woman Media (August 16, 2013).  Interview begins at 10:18.


Veteran Arts Program & Open Mic
Art2Action’s programs for the veteran community are made possible by the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State of Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts (Section 286.25, Florida Statutes); and all our fantastic partners!
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