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The Kennedy Center

Arts and Special Education
A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The Kennedy Center believes that engagement in the arts is an essential, ongoing part of the education of students with disabilities and is working to make it standard practice throughout the country. In 2012, the Kennedy Center convened thought leaders in the allied fields of arts, education, and disability studies for a forward-thinking conversation that examined the changing demands and challenges of education for students with disabilities and explored how those demands will impact arts education in the future. The recommendations of the group, outlined in the proceedings report Examining the Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education: A National Forum, included formalizing the VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program.

The first annual VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference took place the following year in Washington, DC, and has convened annually since then to address critical issues in practice, research, program development, and policy as related to arts and special education. VSA Intersections brings together educators, administrators, researchers, teaching artists, and more to build new skills, transfer knowledge, network, and, ultimately, to help shape best practice–improving educational experiences for students with disabilities learning in and through the arts. The 2018 conference will take place August 7-8 , 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Please click here to visit the 2018 conference page to learn more and to register. You may also view past conference agendas by clicking on the below links:

In addition to the VSA Intersections conference, the Kennedy Center offers ongoing professional development, resources, and further programming around the converging fields of arts education and special education:

  1. Resources for Parents and Educators , including tipsheets and articles, lesson plans, and activities like Start with the Arts , Visual Arts Teacher Resource Guides , and more.
  2. Arts and Special Education Webinars that address instructional practices, critical issues, and professional development needs for teachers and teaching artists.
  3. A professional papers series that highlights emerging research and exemplar programs, as well as a bibliography of journal articles on arts education and special education.
  4. For more educational resources, visit Arts Edge, the Kennedy Center's free digital resource for teaching and learning in, through, and about the arts.