The Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) is excited to announce the launch of an Arts & Wellness program for Veterans who carry either wounds of war or life in September 2017. Through innovative collaborations with organizations and specially trained artists, we will bring the creative arts to this unique population in support of their recovery and healing through programming that provides avenues of expression beyond those traditionally offered.

Arts & Wellness will offer hands-on workshops in ceramics, creative writing, mask making, painting, poetry, dance, and textiles to veterans free of charge. By collaborating with Charles George VA Medical Center (CGVAMC) and Odyssey Clay Works the AAAC’s goal is to help this population tackle their own stories and seek healing through art.

According to the Americans for the Arts’ publication, “Arts Deployed: An Action Guide for Community Arts & Military Programming,” research shows that “arts interventions help the brain reorganize and adapt, improve recovery of function, increase resilience to injury, and reduces stress and anxiety.” Using this as our inspiration, the AAAC will reach out to Buncombe County veterans to assist them in building resilience, enhance coping skills, increase self-esteem, and generate well-being. Recruitment for participants for the program will take place July – August 2017, with programs beginning in September.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Odyssey Clay Works and the Charles George VA Medical Center on this new initiative for the AAAC. Both Odyssey and the CGVAMC have worked on their own in various ways to offer arts-based programming due to the interest and beliefs of courageous individuals and doctors who know how the arts have the power to heal and aid in the recovery of PTSD. Seeing first-hand the value of this work has inspired us to create this Arts & Wellness initiative with a veteran’s focus by joining forces and growing their efforts. We envision this as a signature project for our non-profit that we hope to grow each year,” says Stefanie Gerber Darr, executive director of the AAAC.

The Arts & Wellness program for Veterans has received support from the Ramble Charitable Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.  A fundraiser for this program will take place on Saturday, October 7 at the Asheville Community Theatre, which will include live prose and poetry readings written by Veterans from the CGVAMC.