Community Arts Impact Grant Supports Free Photography Workshops for Veterans
"This class allowed me to take photos in the moments that were the frustrating - the chaotic - especially with kids in the house."
Jeaniel Image, petty officer first class with the U.S. Navy, took part in the Breaking Barriers workshop in 2020. Hosted by the USF Contemporary Art Museum, Breaking Barriers is an annual series of photography workshops provided free of charge to veterans and their families.
"It gives us an opportunity to kind of look inside ourselves and really expel some of that baggage that we don't want to talk about," Image said.
Breaking Barriers takes place July 8 through Aug. 12, 2022, and for the first time it offers two formats: a course for beginners and another for advanced photographers. While no experience is required to attend the session for beginners, the advanced session requires previous photography experience or attendance at a prior Breaking Barriers workshop.
Both workshops are hosted online to increase accessibility for veterans, especially for those dealing with mobility issues or traumatic brain injuries that can make attending in person more difficult.
The only camera that participants need is the one that is usually at hand: a cell phone camera.
"So, the program was learning the techniques and approaches to taking photography into that same level of a professional photographer with a cellphone," said Mikko Maki, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and past participants of Breaking Barriers.
Registration is now open and will be available until July 1. Both veterans and their families are welcome to join in the workshops.
The Breaking Barriers program is supported by the Arts Council's Community Arts Impact Grant program. This program is designed to make arts and cultural opportunities more accessible for underserved populations throughout Hillsborough County. Any nonprofit with an arts-related project is welcome to apply, evening if art programming is not the main mission of the organization.
Past recipients of the grant include organizations such as Project Return, which supports residents returning to the community after a mental health issue, and the United Food Bank of Plant City.
The Arts Council is accepting applications for FY23 grant funding until May 13, 2022.