Touchstone Theatre Hosts Arts Empowerment For Veterans

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Beginning in January of 2020, Touchstone Theatre will be partnering with Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving to host arts empowerment programming for local veterans.

Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving (WVE&T) was founded in September 2016 by Jenny Pacanowski, a veteran of the Iraq War, as a reintegration and empowerment program. Utilizing writing workshops, performances, and public speaking engagements, the organization strives to reconnect veterans with their mind, body, soul, and passion for life. Through creativity, compassion, and camaraderie in a nonjudgmental space, participants empower one another to ascend to the best version of themselves- and learn skills to thrive in daily life. Participants of WVE&T workshops and performances are encouraged to share their stories of training, service, and reintegration, with each other and with civilians.

"Warrior Cultures of the past Greeks, Romans, Native Americans welcomed their military home in rituals of storytelling," says Pacanowski. "This bridged the gap of communication between veterans and civilians. We at Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving curate performances to facilitate these rituals, to call on civilians to uphold their civic duty by being a witness and validate the service of all veterans."

Pacanowski met Touchstone artistic director Jp Jordan earlier this year, and Jordan invited WVE&T to participate in Touchstone's Festival UnBound, a ten-day festival of community art and conversation. Pacanowski and a cast of eight other veterans performed on Touchstone's stage as part of the festival in a show entitled Forward March: The Future of Our Warriors.

"It was immediately clear that Jenny had clarity of vision, and beyond that spoke with such an infectious conviction and enthusiasm for the project that involving her and WVE&T as partners on Festival UnBound was a no-brainer and a powerful addition," says Jordan.

Beginning in January, WVE&T will be holding regular writing and performance workshops in Touchstone's space, meeting monthly on second Monday evenings beginning January 13th, and fourth Sunday afternoons beginning January 26th. They'll be holding their first empowerment performance in their new home at Touchstone on February 22, 2020.

"Coming off the UnBound experience, Touchstone's mission is as clear as ever: we are here to create art and give voice to our community," states Jordan. "Partnering with such an amazing issues and arts-driven organization checks all the boxes and then some for us. It means a lot that we can open our doors and offer Touchstone as a new home for those that have served."

Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving: Founded in 2016, WVE&T is a volunteer run, reintegration and empowerment non-profit organization that strives to reconnect veterans with themselves and their community. www.womenveteransempowered.org

Touchstone Theatre: Founded in 1981, Touchstone is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to serving its community through original productions, arts education, and community-building projects. www.touchstone.org



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