SALT LAKE CITY – For the past 15 years veterans have competed on a national
scale for the opportunity to participate in the finals of the National
Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
This year some 140 painters, weavers, musicians, sculptors, actors and
dancers were selected out of nearly 3,000 artists who entered the year-long
competition. Every VA medical facility across the nation holds a
competition and those selected show their art at the festival, held this
year in Salt Lake City.
The VA uses the creative arts as part of the rehabilitation process and the
competition raises the awareness of the achievements of the artists.
The festival, a professionally designed and directed variety show features
a full orchestra while artists perform music and dance. Artwork will be
exhibited in galleries throughout the festival.
An added feature of this year’s festival is the presence of a Hollywood
golden age star, Jan Powell, who filled the roll of mistress of ceremonies.
Actress Bo Derek, honorary chairperson for the VA’s national rehabilitation
special events, attended to visit with the artists and performers.
The creative arts festival is a combination of two art events that started
with a visual arts competition in 1981 as part of the observance of the
International Year of Disabled Persons. In 1982 the performing arts
competition was held.
In 1989 the two merged and drama and dance were added to the competitions
to create the festival as it is today.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Legion Auxiliary and Help
Hospitalized Veterans sponsor the festival. Local health care organizations
also participate in sponsorship.
Next year the festival will be held in Denver.
This year, of the 140 participants two American Indians were chosen as
finalists. Albert Grey Eagle, Apache/Cheyenne; and Warren Welden, Creek,
attended the Salt Lake City event.