Veterans and Serving Soldiers Share Experiences of War, Peace and the Arts

While most of those who take part in this year’s Army@TheVirtualFringe are civilians some are serving soldiers or veterans involved in the arts.

Experience of military life has spurred many veterans to express themselves through the arts. In other cases their role within the armed forces is one of artistic expression.

The full programme of more than 40 free online events (from 10-30 August) has now been unveiled and it features some remarkable former and current members of the armed forces.

As a group they will be sharing their expertise as musicians, dancers, photographers, writers and arts administrators. As individuals some will be offering insights about their intense personal experiences of peace, war, discrimination, achievement and struggle.

Among them are:

  • Román Baca: A classically trained ballet dancer who joined the US Marines and served in Iraq as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Falluja. He then co-founded Exit12 Dance Company which tells veterans’ stories to increase cross-cultural understanding and heal divisions. He also works with victims of war and civilians across the world.
Roman Baca
  • Andee Birkett: An accomplished musician and singer, bass guitarist, double bass player, clarinettist and vocalist who toured with shows and performers – including Toyah Wilcox – before joining the Army where she is a Lance Corporal in the Band of the Royal Welsh Guards and plays at major royal events.
Andee Birkett
  • Harry Parker: In 2009 Harry lost his legs in an IED explosion when serving in Afghanistan. He is now an artist and author – his first book Anatomy of a Soldier was widely acclaimed. Harry will talk about writing from lived experience.
  • Ben Mason: Director of Music of the Band of the Grenadier Guards – possibly the most famous military band in the world. Captain Mason, who has also composed for theatre, will discuss using music to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.
Ben Mason
  • Wendy Faux: Lieutenant Colonel Faux, the Army’s head of arts, will discuss opportunities for performers to be part of Army@TheFringe in future years.
  • Connor Deakin: A saxophonist and clarinettist who followed his sister into the Army and is now a Lance Sergeant in the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
  • James Wharton: Whose autobiography Out In The Army is being turned into a play for Army@TheFringe. James was the first openly gay member of the Army to feature on the front cover of Soldier magazine.
  • Rebecca Brown: The first female soldier to win Army Photographer of the Year.
  • Phil Spencer: Former Royal Marine, now a filmmaker, looks at making short films.

At a slight tangent from this, Emma Mawdsley, Head of Collections at the National Army Museum and Patrick Baty, historian and curator of The Artists Rifles, will take part in a discussion of the role of contemporary artists and their links to military history.

For more see