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Statewide Nonprofit Honored for Enriching Lives of Disabled Citizens
Aug. 4, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – VSA International honored VSA South Carolina, the state organization on arts and disability, with the Award of Excellence in Educational Programming in June at its International Festival in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the organization for its many arts education projects around the state that promote an inclusive classroom environment for students with disabilities and the general student population.
VSA South Carolina is celebrating its 24th year of working to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. The nonprofit coordinates outreach projects that range from artist residencies with children, students and adults with disabilities to annual events, where partnership organizations come together to provide a month of activities designed for children with disabilities, their families and friends. The organization serves many parts of the state, coordinating projects in the Lowcountry, Midlands and in the Upstate.
Recently, VSA South Carolina created and funded a project where more than 600 students—both special needs students and their non-disabled peers—in several Charleston County middle and high schools participated in various arts projects. In one of those projects, well-known artist Arianne King-Comer taught students how to create scarves, handbags and other fabric items using batik, a fabric dying technique. The students then showed and sold their artwork at the North Charleston Mayfest: Art Crawl.
The nonprofit also partners with schools and organizations, such as the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind and the Healing Arts Program for the Spartanburg Regional Foundation to achieve its goals. Working with VSA South Carolina, the SCSDB encourages students to create and submit artwork for an annual calendar that features artwork by special needs students nationwide. Through its relationship with VSA South Carolina, the Healing Arts Program was able to expand its services to its more severely disabled clients.
“It's the collaborations that make it possible for us to achieve our mission, said LaMondre Pough, chairman of VSA South Carolina. “We have one staff member, so these relationships are central to our efforts to make arts programs available to citizens with disabilities throughout the state.”
This year, VSA South Carolina has been awarded a $50,000 grant for the second year from the S.C. Department of Education Office of Exceptional Children to create a new project with Charleston County high schools that teaches emerging artists with disabilities how to transform their love for the arts into a career.
VSA South Carolina is an affiliate of VSA, an international nonprofit organization founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. The office is located in Columbia at the South Carolina Arts Commission. For more information about VSA South Carolina, call Julia Brown at (803) 734-0445.
About S.C. Arts Commission:
The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission is celebrating 40 years of increasing public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina and by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.