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Nationwide, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities.

The Competition

Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. The competition includes categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are categories in writing as well as the performing arts of dance, drama, and music. Local creative arts competition first place winning entries advance to a national judging process and first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. Selected gold-medal-winning Veterans are invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival hosted by a different VA facility each year.

The Festival

Co-presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Legion Auxiliary, the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) is the culmination of talent competitions in art, creative writing, dance, drama and music for Veterans treated in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national health care system. Veterans exhibit their artwork and original writings or perform musical, dance or dramatic selections in a live stage show performance. All Veterans invited to participate are selected winners of year-long, national fine arts talent competitions in which thousands of Veterans enter, from VA medical facilities across the nation.

VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their therapy programs to further the rehabilitation goals for both inpatients and outpatients. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through that therapy and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our Nation’s Veterans.

The 2021 National Veterans Creative Arts Competition is open. Each VA facility determines their own local competition deadline dates with many deadlines as early as April and throughout the summer months. Veterans must work with a staff person from the VA facility where they are enrolled to submit entries into the competition. Be sure to check with your VA facility as soon as possible to find out dates for submission of entries into the local competition. If you need assistance in identifying the local point of contact at the VA facility where you are enrolled, please email our national committee at Arts4Vets@va.gov.

First place winners in local competitions advance to the national level of judging on October 1, 2021 via digital submission. National competition results will be announced in December. First place winners at the national level of the competition will be invited to attend the 41st National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida April 18-25, 2022.

2021 NVCA Competition Handbook
Art Division Rules, Categories, Entry and Consent Form
Creative Writing Division Rules, Categories, Entry and Consent Form
Dance Division Rules, Categories, Entry and Consent Form 
Drama Division Rules, Categories, Entry and Consent Form
Music Division Rules, Categories, Entry and Consent Form

This competition is open to Veterans who are eligible to receive care through the Department of Veterans Affairs AND are enrolled at a VA Medical Center, Outpatient Clinic, or Vets Center BEFORE entering the local competition. An eligible Veteran can enter the local competition at only one VA facility per year. He/she can submit an entry in creative writing, dance, drama or music categories with a Veteran or group from another VA facility, but still represents and must work through his/her originating facility to enter the competition. This facility should be the site where he/she receives their primary treatment.

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