Arts & the Military

The Arts & The Military Initiative is deeply rooted in New Mexico Arts’ mission to ensure the arts are central to the lives of New Mexicans. New Mexico has 141,558 veterans residing in the state with militaryretirees in all 33 counties. 8.8% of the adults in the state are veterans, a higher percentage than neighboring states and the 12th largest veteran-to-adult population in the United States. 21 New Mexico counties have a veteran population where half are over age 65. New Mexico is also home to 11,458 veterans who are between the ages of 18 and 34. 31,371 are age 35 to 54.

New Mexico Arts and The Military Program Goals

  1. Create more opportunities for military and veteran audiences – including active-duty service members, reservists, National Guard members, veterans, their families and caregivers, and others – to meaningfully engage with the arts.
  2. Build capacity among New Mexico organizations to offer arts programs for military- connected participants.

History of New Mexico Arts and the Military

In 2015, New Mexico Arts began to explore the relationships between veterans, military families, government agencies, and non-profit arts organizations that believe in the healing power of art and creativity. With guidance from the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts, a series of facilitated roundtables across the state were held with representatives of the arts community and the military community. Along with the round tables, a survey was distributed, and other Veteran related information resources were collected and compiled. The Arts & The Military program also supported community building arts activities such as the Love Armor Project, a collaboration with Keshet Dance and EXIT12 dance company and a Veteran’s Songwriting Project among others.

The covid pandemic paused all public programming in 2020-2022 but staff initiated a collaboration with the Art in Public Places program to produce two series of posters featuring art works from veteran artists dedicated to the state’s first responders and front-line pandemic personnel. In 2022, a collaboration with the State Library system produced a resource library that included both electronic and hard copy texts focused on Arts and Healing topics for veterans. These books continue to be available via online library access as well as hard copy books in over 100 libraries located across the state of New Mexico.

The Next Phase of Arts and the Military

The next phase of the New Mexico Arts & The Military program will shift from information gathering to a multi-pronged approached aligned with new strategic goals.


Offer financial support via mini grants to initiatives that use the arts to meaningfully engage veteran and military connected audiences.


Provide tools and resources for organizations through the State Library system to educate providers about the needs of veteran and military audiences.


Build capacity in nonprofits, government agencies and arts organizations to explore collaborative approaches that benefit veterans and military connected audiences.


New Mexico Arts supports arts organizations and collaborating veteran focused organizations creating and expanding opportunities for veterans and active-duty service members to engage with the arts. The $2,500 Mini Grants program assists organizations creating and expanding arts programming for military connected participants via a streamlined granting process. Mini Grants can also be used to build organizational capacity towards the goal of creating and expanding opportunities for veterans and active-duty service members to engage with the arts. Non-Arts organizations and organizations receiving New Mexico Arts funding in other grant programs can also apply for this New Mexico Arts and the Military Grant opportunity.

New for 2024

More Money!

Mini grants amount increased to $2,500.

More Time!

Earlier announcement, Earlier deadline means more time to implement your project. We anticipate projects can be started in January 2024 and completed before June 30, 2024.

Less Administrative Burden!

Only 8 short answer questions, 2 pages. Submit proposal as a PDF document. No online account needed.

New Mexico Arts and the Military Program Guidelines and Application

New Mexico Arts and the Military Mini Grants Presentation

For questions or technical assistance, contact Arts & The Military Coordinator, Kevin Lenkner at 505-412-5791 or via email

Follow NM Arts & The Military on Facebook or Instagram.

Page header image, The Love Armor Project – Humvee Cozy by Shirley Klinghoffer.

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