Since 2014, the Veterans and the Arts Initiative has served more than 16,000 military-connected people through workshops and special events at the Hylton Center and virtually.

"The Veteran Guitar Workshop has been a wonderful experience for both my daughter and me. From the initial class through the 10th lesson, Glen [McCarthy] and his team provided both an outstanding session and the motivation to perfect his teachings through the week. He is a gifted instructor and musician. What I did not anticipate was how much fun my daughter and I would have traveling to and from the Hylton Performing Arts Center. It became our shared ‘thing’ and was easily the highlight of my week. The practice sessions we shared were just as fun. That will continue long after the lessons are over."

(K. G. 2019)

Program Accomplishments

Celebrate the Veterans and the Arts image

The Veterans and the Arts Initiative received the first state appropriation from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2019 in support of this program. 

  • In 2015, the Initiative received its first gift from (the former) Azalea Charities, Inc to launch “Celebrating Veterans and the Arts,” a series of celebratory events in honor of Veterans Day designed for Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, military caregivers, and the community. This annual celebration brings the military community together at the Hylton Center to engage in camaraderie through the hands-on workshops, exhibitions, and special concerts. 
  • The Initiative and its staff has participated in the Virginia Women Veterans Summit since 2018. The Summit highlighted program director Dr. Niyati Dhokai’s contributions by naming her their first-ever Changemaker of the Year in 2018. 
  • The Initiative received six government contracts awarded in support of Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies with administrative support pro-vided by Americans for the Arts and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. 
  • Faculty and researchers have made over 20 presentations of findings from community-based events, including at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Fort Belvoir, international academic conferences, and George Mason University events. 
  • The Hylton Performing Arts Center hosted 60 arts interventions with faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (SMART Lab) and in the College of Health and Human Services (Department of Social Work) to study the effects of arts engagement in older adults in 2019. 
  • Faculty, staff, and artists have created over 200 customized workshops and special events created and implemented specifically for our Veteran community from 2017–2023. 
  • In 2022, the Veterans and the Arts Initiative began a collaboration with Prince William Public Libraries, which expanded access to its workshops for the military-connected community at multiple Prince William Public Library locations.