A private not-for-profit organization, VSA Florida (VSAFL) conducts art education programs in schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, and community centers; promotes the accomplishments of artists with disabilities through our artist registry, exhibitions, and performances; and increases access to the arts through professional development workshops. VSA Florida is a member of the VSA Affiliate Network (a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.) and is headquartered at the David C. Anchin Center in the College of Education at the University of South Florida.
Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles
The mission of VSA Florida is to provide, support and champion arts education and cultural experiences for and by people with disabilities. Our vision is to create a world in which the arts are universally accessible.
All of VSA Florida's programs align with our guiding principles:
- Every young person with a disability deserves access to appropriate arts learning experiences.
- All artists in schools and art educators should be appropriately prepared to include students and adults 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 appropriate skills.
VSA Florida’s History
1981- VSA Florida was founded by the Florida Department of Education (Bureau of Education for Exceptional Students) and Florida Department of State (Division of Cultural Affairs) and was accredited by the National Committee- Arts for the Handicapped, an affiliation of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, under the name Florida Arts for the Handicapped Program. The first state office was established at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
1986- The Florida Arts for the Handicapped Program changed its name to Very Special Arts Florida, following a mandate by the national office, and established itself as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
1996- The Very Special Arts Florida Board of Directors recognized that the rapid growth of community programs across the state created a need for centralized services and accepted an offer from the University of South Florida to become headquartered in Tampa.
1999- Very Special Arts Florida formally changed its name to VSA arts of Florida, as directed by the national office.
2010- VSA arts of Florida formally changed its name to VSA Florida as directed by the national office.
2014- VSA Florida was reassigned by the College of Education from the Department of Teaching and Learning to the David C. Anchin Center to better align with organizational priorities.