VSA at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts


Watch Founder Jean Kennedy Smith discuss the work of the VSA Affiliates

VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, was founded more than 40 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, in every aspect of the arts – from visual arts, performing arts, to the literary arts.

VSA's signature programs offer multi-faceted, unparalleled opportunities for youth with disabilities who have aspirations in the performing and visual arts.

  • The VSA Playwright Discovery Competition invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of script writing. Writers may write from their own experience and observations, or create fictional characters and settings.  Scripts can be comedies, dramas, or even musicals! Young writers with and without disabilities are encouraged to submit a script. Entries may be the work of an individual student or a collaboration by a group of students. For more information click here. 
  • Since 1984, the VSA International Young Soloists Program has identified talented musicians who have a disability. The VSA International Young Soloists Competition annually selects up to four outstanding musicians from the United States and the international arena, and supports and encourages them in their pursuit of a career. These emerging musicians receive $2,500, professional development opportunities, and a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.  Click here for more information.  
  • For the past ten years, VSA and Volkswagen Group of America have teamed up to recognize and showcase emerging artists with disabilities, ages 16-25, who are living in the United States through the VSA Emerging Young Artists Program. This collaboration supports these artists at a critical time when many are deciding whether to pursue the arts as a career. The award validates, and helps finance, that life-defining choice. Every year, fifteen artists are selected for the exhibition and share $60,000 in cash awards generously provided by Volkswagen Group of America.  Click here for more information.
  • VSA proudly presents a unique opportunity for student-artists with disabilities from around the world to display their artwork side-by-side in an online exhibition through the VSA International Art Program for Children with Disabilities.  A selection of artwork from the online entries will be chosen for a live exhibition at the United States Department of Education in Washington D.C.  Click here for more information.