After months of preparation, the Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay (VACTB) held its grand opening on Saturday, March 25 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event featured over 300 pieces of art created by veterans and first responders, an all-day lineup of live music, food trucks, a kids zone and art demonstrations. Located in Gas Light Square at 6798 Crosswinds Drive N., St. Petersburg, the non-profit VACTB is the first of its kind, with a mission of creating a healing environment through art for veterans, active military, first responders and their families.
Many of the veteran artists say that art has saved their lives.
“Volunteers worked day and night to make the grand opening a success,” said Gulfport resident Larry Busby, a veteran and artist who is a volunteer and often a spokesperson for the art center. The center, which works closely with the community, local colleges and has reached out to African-American, Hispanic and LGBT veterans groups, “isn’t just about selling our art,” said Busby. “It’s about working together to build a healing community for veterans, by veterans.”
Organizers are also hoping to create a prototype to develop the program across the country, and to include other art forms such as musical and literary arts.
For more information, visit vactb.org or find them on Facebook.