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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:

Very Special Arts New Jersey Festivals Performances, 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.
Parent/Child Workshops in Music and Art for Children with Autism Weekly 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.
Unlimited Potential Theater Company (UPTCo): This theater company focuses on integrating the talents of actors with and without disabilities. Performances 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.
Very Special Arts NJ
Arts Achievement Awards: Annual deadline mid-January.
Student 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.
Arts Par Excellence Touring 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.
Storyteller Players: Theater project for adults with developmental disabilities. Weekly 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.
Arts for Children with Disabilities: New 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 County.
Resource and Referral Services VSA/NJ 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.

For Information Contact:
Very Special Arts New Jersey
703 Jersey Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

(732) 745-3885 (Office Telephone)
(732) 745-5935 (Office Telephone)
(732) 745-3913 (TTY)
(732) 745-4524 (Office Fax)


Major Funding Provided by:
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
VASarts National