Very Special Arts
New Jersey (VSA/NJ) offers programs and services in all of the arts
disciplines to individuals of all ages, particularly those with disabilities.
Established in New Jersey in 1978 and co-sponsored by the Middlesex
County Cultural & Heritage Commission, this state-wide not-for-profit
is part of the international Very Special Arts network which serves
47 states and 87 nations. National Very Special Arts was founded by
Jean Kennedy Smith as an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and is designated by Congress
as the national coordinating agency for arts programs for individuals
with disabilities. On the local level, VSA/NJ programs provide expanded
art opportunities to the 800,000 New Jersey residents with disabilities.
Utilizing artists, educators, therapists and volunteers, VSA/NJ programs
are developed and brought into schools, cultural institutions and agencies
serving individuals with disabilities. Activities include:
Special Arts New Jersey Festivals
exhibits and workshops held regionally every October at the Newark
Museum, May in Bergen County and at Rowan University, and state-wide
in June at Middlesex County College. Schools, individuals and agencies
serving individuals with disabilities are encouraged to pre-register
and participate in a day of arts experiences.
Workshops in Music and Art for Children with Autism
sessions for children with autism and their families, held at Rutgers
University in New Brunswick and Rowan University in Glassboro. Through
music, movement and the visual arts, children develop and refine
expressive language, cognitive and social skills. Classes, which
meet on Saturdays, are one hour long and are held in 10-week semesters
beginning in October and February.
Potential Theater Company (UPTCo): This theater company focuses
on integrating the talents of actors with and without disabilities.
are fully accessible for both audience and cast members, with accommodations
made to encourage the participation of all that are interested.
Weekly evening workshops, are held in North Brunswick, focusing
on different aspects of theater and technical stage management.
This year's performance will be featured at our annual residency
at Plays-in-the-Park on March 19, 20 and 21. Production title and
ticket prices to be announced. Additional touring performance opportunities
of children's and adult plays throughout the year. Annual Wordsmith's
Competition, held every fall for writers and those who aspire to
be, to enter works of poetry, prose, essays or plays. Winning works
are read at a performance and reception held in late fall at the
Villagers Theatre in Somerset. Auditions for the annual production
are held during the month of December.
Special Arts NJ
Arts Achievement Awards: Annual deadline mid-January.
Arts Excellence Awards - Presented to classified students, ages
14-21, who show outstanding achievement or commitment in one of
the art disciplines. Outstanding Administrator Award - Presented
to administrators for their commitment to high quality art and/or
arts programs for classified students. Outstanding Educator Award
- Presented to educators who have established high quality art and/or
arts programs for classified students. Distinguished Service Award
- Presented to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment
and exceptional contributions to art and/or arts education in New
Jersey for classified students.
exhibit of artwork, one piece of which is chosen from every school
district, private school or agency throughout the state. Works are
displayed annually at locations statewide, including a reception
recognizing the students and their schools. Works are selected through
February, and toured during the spring.
Players: Theater project for adults with developmental disabilities.
workshops in North Brunswick, meeting one evening each week from
October through May, designed to develop skills and encourage the
joy of participation in theater activities.
for Children with Disabilities:
Brunswick Theater Project - Offered weekly for 13 after-school sessions
beginning in September, open to New Brunswick residents. Integrating
multiple art forms, students are encouraged to participate in different
aspects of theater and drama training. Mercer County Arts Institute
- Four, ten week series of after school workshops in visual arts,
music, theater and drama, held on the campus of Mercer County College.
Program is open to students, ages 8 through 18, who reside in Mercer
and Referral Services
is available to any individual or organization requiring information
or assistance with an arts issue as it relates to individuals with
disabilities, accessibility or physical accommodations.
Very Special Arts New Jersey
703 Jersey Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission
United Way of Central Jersey
Mercer County Office for the Disabled
NJ State Council on the Arts/Dept. of State, a partner agency to National
Endowment for the Arts/NJ State Department of Community Affairs