Attention All ARTISTS!
VSA Arts Idaho 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. VSA's mission is empowering and engaging people with disabilities in the creative process through opportunities which are fully inclusive, educational and participatory.
The Creative Access Art Center – This program was funded through the Idaho State Independent Living Council's Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. The SILC promotes the independent living philosophy for all Idahoans with disabilities: choice, self-determination, and access for all.
Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL) houses several programs which serve families, children and individuals with disabilities. One such program is the VSA arts of Idaho, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the VSA international organization on art and disability. The program has a mission, which empowers people with disabilities and engages them in the creative process through opportunities which are fully inclusive, educational, and participatory.
In 2010 and again in 2011 was awarded through the State Independent Living Council (SILC) a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant to increase employment of artists with disabilities and to establish the Creative Access Art Center (CAAC) and related adult artist employment and professional development programming. Services are delivered in an inclusive environment and so it serves the full arts community and not just those with disabilities. The CAAC includes exhibit space, artist teaching classroom space and a resource library, which includes education, disability and arts information.
The Creative Access Art Center opened its doors in December 2010 with a juried art exhibit entitled "Helpers" featuring the work of artists both with and without disabilities.
In the late spring 2011, local artists showcased their work at the CAAC by participating in a fundraising event "Chair-ity" which debuted in time for the Downtown Boise First Thursday event in June.
Throughout the summer 2011, VSA arts of Idaho hosted professional development workshops for and by local artists in the CAAC.
By fall 2011, work on the Master Apprentice Artist Program was underway. This unique mentorship program allowed Master Artists to work with Apprentice Artists in developing technique; guide them with vital connections to the local arts community and fostered personal and professional growth.
Six teams of artists spent a minimum of 25 hours together in an effort to produce a minimum of one work of art per team. The teams far exceeded the requirements and put in an average of more than 40 hours producing an average of six works of art per team. The "enAble art show" opened December 1st in conjunction with downtown Boise's First Thursday event and ran through December 23rd, 2011. The exhibit drew in more than 350 people over the course of its three week display.
As a result of the program's success, VSA arts of Idaho was granted a continuation of funding through the State Independent Living Council's Medicaid Infrastructure Grant to continue with the Master Apprentice Artist Program through 2012.
Professional Development classes and workshops will continue as well through 2012 allowing local artists, both with and without disabilities opportunities to create, display and sell their art. Realizing self-employment in a field of one's interest is key to the success and sustainability of this program.
VSA arts of Idaho in Public Schools
VSA arts of Idahohas a long history of supporting artists and teachers in the Creative Access artist-in-residence program. The residency sites include preschool and grades K–12. Through our VSA State Affiliate Contract for Services 2012, a contract with the State Department of Education, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts, artists will work in 8-10 K-12 public schools to provide art programs to students with disabilities in Idaho's Special Education Programs.
The Center was made possible through the combined efforts of VSA of Idaho, Idaho Parents Unlimited, Inc. (IPUL), the Idaho State Independent Living Council (http://www.silc.idaho.gov/) and dozens of staff, volunteers, contractors and partnerships. The building serves as headquarters for the IPUL/VSA Idaho affiliate as well as house the office space for IPUL, the State Parent Training and Information Center under the US Department of Education, the state Family to Family Health Information Center, Family Voices Idaho – Keeping Families and Children at the Center of Health Care.
Programs continuing in 2012 are art workshops, exhibits and educational classes. This includes providing space for the Treasure Valley Artist Alliance monthly meetings and four exhibits per year as well as emerging opportunities such as Music Therapy for children with disabilities, Youth Yoga and Massage Therapy for both parents and children.
As an agency that is focused on inclusion and opportunities for individuals and families of children with disabilities, accessibility is inherent to the work we do. We have an accessible entrance on the east side of the building and accessibility is also built into not only the space but our programs as well.
We work with the Consortium of Idahoans with Disabilities on accessibility issues around the state and incorporate ADA accessibility guidelines into our materials, workshops and organizational policies.
Located in the heart of Boise's wonderful Cultural District, the CAAC, the artists and the community will all benefit from the programs we provide. Whether it's through artists providing hands on art opportunities to children in special education classrooms; apprentice artists with disabilities honing a new artistic skill for their self-employment dreams; or the folks of Boise taking in the arts while on a walk downtown, everyone's lives are enriched through these experiences.
The Creative Access Art Center and the programs at Idaho Parents Unlimited fulfill a mission to educate, empower, support and advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families.