experiencing the joy of discovery
and exploration, and the value of
each other’s ideas.
VSA is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1974 by
Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith as Very Special Arts.
For more than thirty years, VSA arts has worked to create a
society where people with disabilities can learn through, partici-
pate in, and enjoy the arts. Currently more than five million
people participate in VSA arts programs through
a network of affiliates nationwide and in
more than sixty countries.
The scope of the organization’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
disabilities, VSA arts is supported by
its affiliate network in offering diverse
programs and events and innovative
lifelong learning opportunities at the
international, national, and local levels ranging from training institutes
and artist-in-residence projects to arts
camps and emerging-artist award programs.
• Every young person with a
disability deserves access to
appropriate arts learning
• All artists in schools and art
educators should be adequately
prepared to include students with
disabilities in their instruction.
• All children, youth, and adults
with disabilities should have
complete access to community
cultural facilities and activities.
• All individuals with disabilities
who aspire to careers in the arts
should have the opportunity to
develop necessary skills.
Learning Through the Arts
Programming and initiatives of VSA
arts are guided by four essential prin-
Inclusion teaches us that all means
all. Everybody. No exceptions. The
arts invite people to leave familiar ter-
ritory, to explore new answers, and to
seek new questions. The arts offer a
means to self-expression, communica-
tion, and independence. Through the
arts, students become lifelong learners,
Working for Change
VSA arts is committed to driving
change—changing perceptions and
practice, classroom by classroom, community by community, and ultimately
society. There is still a long way to go
to achieve inclusive arts access and
equal opportunity of expression for all.
VSA arts 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 fitting 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 Kennedy Smith.
“In size, shape and color, pearls
exist in a stunning diversity of forms.
Likewise, we are each a rare treasure.
Working together we resemble a string
of pearls, connected by a common
purpose and commitment to arts, education, and disability.
“One of the most distinctive features of a pearl is its luminosity and
the way it seems to glow from within.
This radiance is a caused by reflection; similarly, the work of VSA arts
reflects the extraordinary commitment of our nationwide and international VSA arts network of affiliates,
the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts, and the United
Triarco Arts & Crafts
2009 Logo for full year
NASCO ARTS & CRAFTS DIVISION
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