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VSA Arts Tennessee

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts & Humanities Councils & Agencies

Mission: The mission of VSA arts Tennessee is to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in and express themselves through the arts and arts education.

Programs: VSA initiated a pilot program using a national model in demonstrating collaboration between art specialists and special education teachers. In the residencies, artists work with children with disabilities and teachers to reach  behavioral goals. Residencies have resulted in student run businesses being created, a presentation of a canvass painting to the State legislative body, a student winning a national award and trip to Washington DC, and national publications. The art institute is for children with and without disabilities. It allows the children to learn about a specific culture through the arts ( dance, drama, music, literature and the visual arts) in an inclusive environment. There are pre and post tests to measure learning and a reception at the end of the institute. VSA is soon to publish some of the findings from research conducted on the programs.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

VSA Arts Tennessee is not only inclusive of typical and differently-abled children and adults, but the director herself (Lori Kissinger) often writes personal emails to encourage them! A young lady in Knoxville, herself a learning challenged young adult wants to improve her writing. Though that isn't often a component of VSA Arts Tennessee, Lori thoughtfully directed the gal to other sources in a detailed email. Leadership like that brings out the best in Lori's supporters, as well. Being a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, she teaches her students about community projects. All the while, her students take part and volunteer at the various workshops and events. What a winning combination! When a children are given a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder there can be feelings of isolation for the parents. But the non-profit makes quite an effort to reach communities throughout Tennessee. Additionally, VSA's link to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center smooths the information routes, making the VKC research readily available to remote areas as well as urban ones.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been blessed as a visual arts coordinator to do two workshops with VSA Arts Tennessee. It is a beautiful sight to see the leadership from within the non-profit consistently create a level playing field for children and adults, allowing all of us to share in the fun growth experiences!

Bailey E.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Vsa-TN provides a wide array of art opportunities for people with disabilities. I especially appreciate the opportunities for special education students to work with an artist-in-residence to create meaningful artworks that help teach academic lessons.