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VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division

VSA logoVSA (formerly Very Special Arts), the international organization based in Washington D.C., is dedicated to the idea that individuals with mental and physical disabilities deserve opportunities to participate in the arts. An educational affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, VSA has grown from a national association to an international family. Yet, VSA maintains a personal, caring sense through support and participation on state and local levels. VSA strives to nurture and stimulate the creative potential of people who are disabled and to highlight their accomplishments. Individuals are encouraged to take part in ongoing projects and festivals, which involve them in drama, dance, music and the visual arts.    

About VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service DivisionTwo smiling girls

The mission of VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division is to assure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in arts programs and to provide opportunities for the integration of people with disabilities into society. In addition, VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division will:
  • support the initiation and expansion of arts related programs, culminating in a festival(s), which provides experiences to enhance learning and enrich the lives of people with disabilities;
  • increase local awareness and understanding of the value of arts programs by, with and for people with disabilities among the general public and the arts and education communities by providing places and events for people with disabilities to display and sell their work;
  • develop and implement programs and services in the arts by, with and for people with disabilities;
  • provide information, training and technical assistance to agencies and individuals who provide services in the arts to people with disabilities.  


Photo of two young girls in face paint with arms around each other

The Festival

The annual VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division festival began in 1981. The daylong schedule of performances and activities is designed to create hands-on arts experiences for individuals with and without disabilities. Stations throughout the festival feature experiences in various art media, dance, movement, drama and music. A wide variety of students and professionals perform during the festival. Musicians, dancers, actors, choirs and many more contribute to the enriching atmosphere. An art exhibit features works by artists with disabilities from around the county.
For years the festival was held at one location. With the growing awareness and interest, the festival has spread to several sites in Cleveland and the surrounding area.

Making Great Art

January 2004 marked the beginning of a unique collaborative effort between VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division and Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. Through the Creative Arts Therapies Department, individuals with special needs are invited to participate in therapeutic and adapted arts experiences in music, visuals arts and dance. Adult artists are encouraged to develop their interest through the adapted multimedia, visual arts class “ArtMakers,” which meets each Tuesday evening for one hour. This and other classes vary in tuition and dates. For details, visit or contact Brittany Lesch, associate director of Creative Arts Therapies, at (216) 521-2540, ext. 34 or
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FundingWoman playing drums

VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division is funded by donations and grants from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Beck Center for the Arts, Cuyahoga County Agricultural Society, Aurora VFW, Sultanas Mahdi Caravan, Pat Catan’s and American Pride Car Washes.
Cuyahoga Arts and Culture logoThe VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division 2014 Festival, held in May, received public support with local tax dollars from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, to preserve and enrich our region's artistic and cultural heritage.
The nonprofit organization also relies on support from fundraisers, area businesses and individuals. Any donation is gratefully accepted and all contributions are tax-deductible.
Donations can be sent to:
VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division
1275 Lakeside Avenue East
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

For information about VSA Ohio/Cleveland Area Service Division, call (216) 931-7458. 

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Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities
1275 Lakeside Avenue East
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1129
PHONE: (216)241-8230 - FAX: (216)861-0253