Festival Celebrates Arts and Disability


If you think a photographer has to be able to see, a dancer able to walk, or a percussionist able to hear, you are in for a surprise.

VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, will be hosting The 2010 International VSA Festival, an unprecedented event featuring more than 600 internationally acclaimed artists, performers, and educators, in Washington, D.C., from June 6-12.

From music to theater, literary readings to film screenings, and sculptures to paintings, the International VSA Festival will feature works by eminent and emerging artists with disabilities, as well as renowned educational experts who will share innovative and inclusive instruction strategies.

"The International VSA Festival will highlight excellence and ability," says VSA President Soula Antoniou. "The international range of talent and expertise that will be presented is phenomenal. Our festival will be a celebration that ensures that all people participate in the arts."

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Installations by world-renowned artists Dale Chihuly, Mark di Suvero, Judith Scott, and Yinka Shonibare, MBE
  • Performances by Dame Evelyn Glennie, the Scottish virtuosic percussionist, with the National Symphony Orchestra
  • R&B legend Patti LaBelle
  • The jazz stylings of Diane Schuur
  • Diagnosis of a Faun, an original dance piece that VSA commissioned from Tamar Rogoff Performance Projects
  • Last Comic Standing season four winner Josh Blue
  • The eclectic blues of New Orleans' Henry Butler
  • An Opening Ceremony hosted by famed actor Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, The L Word)
  • Revealing Culture, a groundbreaking exhibition of more than 130 works of art by 54 artists with disabilities
  • Mali's renowned singer-songwriter Salif Keita
  • Australia's indie rock band Rudely Interrupted
  • The U.K.'s Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company
  • Brazil's Forro No Escuro
  • Japan's virtuoso violinist Narimichi Kawabata
  • Ireland's Fishamble: The New Play Company
  • The Thousand Hand Dance from the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe.

As part of the festival, the International VSA Education Conference will feature nearly 70 workshops, panels, and lectures with education professionals from around the world. Participants will learn about inclusive education programs and strategies, share expertise, and network with colleagues. Sessions are geared toward three main themes: Advancing Inclusive Education, 21st-Century Learning Skills, and Pathways to Employment.

Keynote speakers include: Sir Ken Robinson, expert in the field of creativity and innovation in education; Dame Evelyn Glennie, world-renowned solo percussionist; and Kenneth Eklindh, head of the UNESCO program "The EFA Flagship on the Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities: Towards Inclusion."

Performances and exhibitions will take place at venues throughout Washington, D.C.

VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, was founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all. Each year, 7 million people of all ages and abilities participate in VSA programs. VSA is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information, visit www.vsarts.org or contact Laura Broom: ljbroom@vsarts.org.