Festival of Veterans Arts 2024 comes to Southbank

Festival of Veterans Arts 2024 comes to Southbank
Brendan Rees

The Festival of Veterans Arts 2024 (FOVA24) will celebrate the creativity and talent of war veteran artists at the iconic Southbank Arts Precinct from March 15 to 24.

Presented by the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM), a veteran-led charity and cultural institution, the festival will include exhibitions, workshops, live performances, talks, and a one-day summit focused on the creativity of the veteran community.

The first festival of its kind, organisers said the event would celebrate the lives of veterans and their service but also seek to expand perceptions of why and how veterans engage in the arts.

“Through FOVA24, we aim to celebrate and champion the veteran artist community, our culture and the invaluable contributions as artists, employees, and thought leaders,” ANVAM’s head of arts programs Tanja Johnston said.

“Creativity is a currency. It can be utilised for mental health and wellbeing, as a pathway to employment post-service, and as a means of connecting with a community of fellow creative veterans.”

Among the event’s highlights will be a welcoming and networking event, live music at the Shrine of Remembrance, and an array of artistic engagements, an exclusive program for the veteran community featuring workshops, and a Creative Agency Summit on March 23 at the Victorian College of the Arts. 

There will also be a program on offer to the veteran community and the public, including the world’s only Veterans Public Arts Trail, the new iteration of the annual exhibition March To Art: Form, a pop-up exhibition with ADFCAA, open days at the RUSI Library, and two live performances during the festival.

ANVAM’s chairman and director Mark Johnston said beyond the traditional focus on recovery or rehabilitation, FOVA24 aimed to delve into the professional and leisurely realms of artistic expression.

“There is a growing focus on creativity in the workplace,” he said.

“As workplaces, including Defence, increasingly value and nurture creativity and culture, we are committed to nurturing the creatives themselves, particularly veteran artists.”

“While there is often recognition of veterans and their military service, there’s a notable absence of celebration of who we are as a culture and community. FOVA24 seeks to change that narrative.”

The festival will occur at various iconic Melbourne Arts Precinct locations with different workshops providing opportunities in artistic mediums such as stand-up comedy, life sculpting, collage, writing, and dance.

The summit will offer a day of talks, panels, and performances exploring the relevance of creativity to veterans, while “fostering a sense of culture, legacy, and resilience”.

The festival will follow the success of ANVAM’s successful projects including From War 2018, the first exhibition of veteran arts at the Australian Parliament House, the annual March To Art exhibition series, and the currently touring photographic exhibition Persona. •

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