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Arts HQ: Mobilizing Veterans in the Arts – Placerville, CA
May 20, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm PDT
On Saturday, May 20, 2023, from 10 am to 4 pm, local Veteran artists will display their work and present demonstrations and performances to the public in the Upper Parking Lot of the Veterans Memorial Building in Placerville. This free arts event—which takes place on Armed Forces Day and during Mental Health Awareness Month—will raise awareness about issues relating to Veterans’ mental health, and will include resources for Veterans and their caregivers.
Arts HQ is part of a series of “pop-up community creative arts cafés” that are being presented on an ongoing basis throughout California. These pop-up cafés are the result of a partnership between MHSOAC (California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission) and VETART, a San Diego-based arts non-profit. MHSOAC and VETART are partnering with Arts and Culture El Dorado to produce Arts HQ, the El Dorado County pop-up café.
“These events empower, uplift, and promote Veterans’ voices so that they can be heard and seen in the community,” explains Steven Dilley, the founder and Executive Director of VETART. At VETART, military-connected individuals receive arts instruction and gain access to resources that support them as artists. After decades of work with military-connected individuals, Steven has seen firsthand the powerful impact that art can have on mental health. “People gain agency by
being able to express themselves through non-verbal means… The outcome is that we see people’s wellness go up, and their participation avoidance goes down, and that is translated into their life.”
When Steven flies to events around California, he says that he sits in the window seat and looks at the ground as they fly over cities. He sees an endless repetition of stadiums and arenas, malls, massive parking lots, sprawling businesses. He wishes that community arts centers were as ubiquitous as those other fixtures of any city, large or small. Steven hopes that pop-up cafés like Arts HQ might serve as a kind of floating community arts center, a mobile space for arts instruction, creation and appreciation that can move from one community to another, serving Veterans throughout California.
Jordan Hyatt-Miller, Arts and Culture El Dorado’s Program Coordinator, sees Arts HQ as a unique opportunity to promote Veteran artists, forge new connections in the community, and kickstart dialogues about mental health, art-making, the Veteran experience in El Dorado County, and their many intersections. “This event will fold in so many different perspectives and even artistic practices, from the literary arts to painting to music,” Jordan explains. “We are grateful to our partners in the City and County government here in El Dorado County, as well as VETART and MHSOAC. Above all, we’re grateful to the Veteran artists who are the real focus of this special event.”
Arts HQ will take place in the Upper Parking Lot of the Veterans’ Memorial Building while VFW 10165’s Veterans’ Coming Home event takes place in the Lower Parking Lot. Both events are free and open to the public. At Arts HQ, County representatives from Veteran Services and Behavioral Health will be in attendance to support Veterans and the public with mental health resources. The event will feature several interactive discussions and demonstrations, including a drum circle and a listening session, as well as opportunities to meet and have conversations with local Veteran artists.