George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Bringing veterans, families and the community together through the arts

November 7, 2018   /   by Mary Lee Clark

Veterans Day at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center at Mason’s Science and Technology Campus is hosting its fourth annual Celebrating Veterans and the Arts event for veterans, servicemembers, their families, military caregivers and the community on Saturday, Nov. 10.

The event is part of the Veterans and the Arts Initiative, founded in 2014 to bring the military community together at the Hylton Center to engage with the arts. 

“The initiative brings a sense of camaraderie among the veterans that they might have missed since they left the military,” said Shamala Capizzi, program assistant for the Veterans and the Arts Initiative and a Marine veteran. “While they are learning to strum the guitar and/or creating art through one of our workshops, veterans are among brothers and sisters who can relate to their military experience. 

Ulysses Reece, an Army veteran, said he enjoys going somewhere that’s filled with positivity.

“My experience with the Veterans for the Arts Initiative has been musically motivating and a real joy in reconnecting with an old friend, [the guitar],” said Reece.

The first part of the event, from 4 to 8 p.m., is free and open to everyone. It kicks off with a songwriting showcase from military children who have been working on their own songs through a series of workshops at the Hylton Center, cohosted by the Center for American Military Music Opportunities, or C*A*M*M*O.

At 6 p.m. there will be a premiere of the short film “The Lafayette Escadrille,” followed by a question and answer period led by Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and featuring the filmmakers. Chamber music performances, community resources, an instrument petting zoo and interactive art workshops will be ongoing throughout the day. The full schedule is available at

At 8 p.m., country music artist William Michael Morgan will take the stage at Merchant Hall for an evening performance, to be opened by Voices of Service from C*A*M*M*O. The ticketed concert is free for veterans, servicemembers, their families and military caregivers while supplies last and is $20 for the general public. All proceeds go to the Veterans and the Arts Initiative.

The initiative has community arts programming all year such as a papermaking workshop, drawing workshop, and a photography workshop for women veterans scheduled for Spring 2019.

“We're aspiring to create lasting connections to the arts and also support strong social relationships for our veteran servicemembers, their families and our caregivers as well as the community,” said Niyati Dhokai, program manager for the Veterans and the Arts Initiative.

Children can try out different instruments during the instrument petting zoo at the Hylton as part of the Celebrating Veterans and the Arts program on Saturday, Nov. 10. Photo provided.

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