SchoolArts Magazine

May-June 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 42 of 54

Mission The scope of VSA's work is immense, reaching people of all ages and abilities across the globe. Still, our mission remains simple: to use the arts to include people with disabilities in all aspects of society. About VSA Arts Designated by the United States Congress as the coordinating organization for arts programming for persons with disabili- ties, VSA arts is supported by its affiliate network in offering diverse programs, events, and innovative lifelong learning opportunities at the international, national, and local levels ranging from training institutes and artist-in-residence proj- ects to arts camps and emerging-artist award programs. Learning through the Arts Programming and initiatives of VSA are guided by four essential principles: 1. Every young person with a disability deserves access to appropriate arts learning experiences. 2. All art educators should be adequately prepared to include students with disabilities in their instruction. 3. All children, youth, and adults with disabilities should have complete access to community cultural facilities and activities. 4. All individuals with disabilities who aspire to careers in the arts should have the opportunity to develop necessary skills. Inclusion teaches us that all means all. Everybody. No exceptions. The arts invite people to leave familiar terri- tory, to explore new answers, and to seek new questions. The arts offer a means to self-expression, communication, and independence. Through the arts, students become lifelong learners, experiencing the joy of discovery and exploration, and the value of each other's ideas. Working for Change VSA is committed to driving change—changing perceptions and practice, classroom by classroom, community by commu- nity, and ultimately society. There is still a long way to go to achieve inclusive arts access and equal opportunity of expres- sion for all. VSA president Soula Antoniou captured the true mission of the organization at the Start with the Arts Festival, held in Washington, DC, the week of June 5, 2005, when she said: "Pearls are a traditional gift to mark thirty years together, and are a ftting symbol for VSA arts' anniversary celebration. As a pearl is made up of layers, our thirty years are layers built upon a unique vision that began with Ambassador Jean Ken - nedy Smith. "In size, shape, and color, pearls exist in a stunning diver- sity of forms. Likewise, we are each a rare treasure. Working together we resemble a string of pearls, connected by a com - mon purpose and commitment to arts, education, and dis- ability. "One of the most distinctive features of a pearl is its lumi- nosity and the way it seems to glow from within. This radi- ance is a caused by refection; similarly, the work of VSA arts refects the extraordinary commitment of our nationwide and international VSA arts network of affliates, the John F. Ken- nedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the United States Congress." F O C U S I N : O R G A N I Z A T I O N U P D A T E S Page sponsored by: VSA VSA is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith as Very Special Arts. For more than forty years, VSA has worked to create a society where people with disabilities can learn through, partic- ipate in, and enjoy the arts. Currently more than five million people participate in VSA programs through a network of affiliates nationwide and in more than sixty countries. 38

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