VSA History

About VSA

VSA is an international, nonprofit organization that was founded in 1974 to create a society where all people with (and without) disabilities can come together in an inclusive environment and learn, participate in and enjoy the arts. The program was first founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. VSA is also an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo thanks to David Hunsinger, Kennedy Center photographer

Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith

What does “VSA” stand for?

Originally “VSA” was an acronym for Very Special Arts. Though our three letters no longer explicitly act as an acronym, they are now intended to represent:

Vision of an inclusive community,
Strength in shared resources,
Artistic expression that unites us all.

About VSA Loudoun

vsa performanceVSA Loudoun County was founded in 1989. In 1991 Alice Power started our successful Performiing Arts program. In the Spring of 1991 the first musical play, The Wizard of Oz was performed at Luckett’s Community Center. The next year, we moved to Loudoun Valley Community Center for rehearsals and performances, where we remained until our audiences outgrew the gymnasium! We then rehearsed at the Round Hill Arts Center, until the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Franklin Park opened this year, which is now our permanent performing venue.

We have performed at three International Festivals of VSA arts in Brussels, Belgium in 1994, in Los Angeles, California in 1999 and in Washington, DC in 2004. In September 2005, the Clowning Group performed at the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk in Fairfax County while also celebrating VSA arts actress Lauren Welsh, the Honorary Chairperson for Buddy Walk 2005! And we were thrilled that our clowns were invited back for the 2006 Buddy Walk.

In this past year, we started offering workshops in preparation for the Mainstage Show. We had movement classes that helped teach the participants how to vsa performancebow correctly as well as authentic Japanese movement. One of the favorite workshops was on Japanese Drumming. A local traditional Japanese Drumming Ensemble, Nen Daiko, came and not only did dramatic, energetic presentations, but taught the methods of drumming to nearly 30 participants. This event was followed by a series of workshops led by Shizumi, who taught traditional Japanese movement. Shizumi was so impressed by what our group was doing, and the talent that its participants had, that she invited us to be one of the opening events for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

The DaVinci Art Studio was originally created to provide on-going visual arts studio sessions for adult participants to produce their own work at their own pace, while getting personalized instruction. The Open Studio has continuously been offered at area galleries, inspiring DaVinci artist’s by ever changing exhibits, exposing them to a variety of media, styles and techniques, and providing an opportunity to meet local artists. While the majority of Open Studio participants enjoy painting with acrylics, a variety of media are available.

DaVinci artists have displayed and sold a number of original pieces locally, throughout Virginia, and in the international exhibit called “How does art shape your world?”

Founded in 2001 by VSA enthusiast Pam Oliver, the DaVinci Art Studio continues to expand to provide art opportunities for a growing audience, including the new and interactive ‘Art Group’ class. DaVinci has and will continue to offer classes and workshops in a variety of media, from fiber arts to ceramics, open to students of various ages. Click on DaVinci Art Studio to find out more!

Arts for All, Inc, d/b/a VSA of Loudoun County is a non profit  501 C-3 Organization; EIN #27-1022618