I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the "Creativity is Boundless" Exhibition at the HCC Community College, Ybor Art Gallery, in Ybor City, Florida. This exhibition is by the VSA Florida Registry Artists, which I am proud to be a member of now, for ten years. If you would like to visit this exhibition, go to the HCC Performing Arts Building, First Floor, Palm Ave and 15th Street, Ybor City, Gallery hours: Mon & Weds-Fri 10am-4pm Tues Noon-7pm.
VSA is the international organization on arts and disability. The VSA was founded approximately 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities to increase access to the arts for all people. There are 52 international affiliates and a network of approximately 37 nationwide affiliates. VSA is providing arts and educational programming for youth and adults with disabilities around the world.
Every year nearly 7 million people of various abilities participate in VSA programs, young and old alike, in every aspect of the arts from performing arts, visual arts, to the literary arts.
There are four principal guidelines of VSA programs and affiliates:
- Every young person with a disability deserves access to high quality arts learning experiences.
- All artists in schools and art educators should be prepared to include students with disabilities in their instruction.
- All children, youth, and adults with disabilities should have complete access to cultural facilities and activities.
- All individuals with disabilities who aspire to careers in the arts should have the opportunity to develop appropriate skills.
VSA Florida significantly impacted my life, when postpolio syndrome affected me severely in the year 2000. I had been creating art as a hobby, but when my life changed drastically, VSA afforded me the ability to show my art in various museums and galleries throughout the State of Florida. I found an outlet for my creativity, as well as a way to heal and live with the physical and emotional pain of postpolio syndrome. I also participated in their artist in residency program sharing my creative knowledge with students with various abilities in the Pinellas and Hillsborough County School Districts. I was also an active member of their Board of Directors for two years. The VSA Florida registry showcases each artist’s work individually and is accessible for everyone to view. To view the VSA Florida website please visit VSA Florida to view the full range of VSA artists and their work.
To find out if there is a VSA program in your state, please visit VSA National.