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The Very Special Arts Festival to Hit The College on May 31 and June 1

On Wednesday, May 31, and Thursday, June 1, between three and four thousand children from Pre-K through Grade 2 and Grades 3 through 8 will be participating in a 24-year-old tradition at TC, the "Very Special Arts Festival." May 31 is "Early Childhood Day" and June 1 is the "All City Festival." This year's festival theme is "Celebrate Abilities: Then and Now, and…" said Dr. Bebe Bernstein, the Director and Co-chair of VSA arts of New York City "emphasizing the future and celebrating inclusion."

The "Very Special Arts Festival," according to Bernstein, "is the oldest and most successful festival in New York." VSA arts of New York City began as Very Special Arts in 1976 and the festival has been housed and affiliated with TC since then. VSA arts of New York City, an affiliate of VSA arts, which was founded by Jean Kennedy Smith as a non-profit international organization that creates learning opportunities for children, youth, and adults with disabilities.

The mission of VSA arts is to offer arts-based programs in the visual arts, creative writing, dance, drama, and music through a vast network in 41 states, the District of Columbia and 86 international affiliates in 83 countries. VSA arts programs now serve 4.3 million Americans and 1.3 million people in other parts of the world.

From its very beginning, the unique offering of VSA arts was its Very Special Arts Festivals, which are non-competitive events involving children with disabilities in music, dance, drama, and visual arts activities. The criteria for sponsorship includes the partnership of community-based agencies and other organizations with mutual goals, and the inclusion of teacher training as part of the festival program.

Some of the sponsoring institution are TC, Bell Atlantic and more than 10 arts organizations throughout the city. The Community Affairs Division of Bell Atlantic headed by John Rollo donated $5,000 for the design and distribution of 7,500 posters publicizing the event to every New York City school. The Creative Arts Laboratory at TC was one of the arts organizations that agreed to donate artists' and performers' time to the Festival.

"The VSA arts Festival provides opportunities for individuals, especially children, to experience and participate in the arts," said Andrew Buck, Co-chair of the Festival and Director of Arts Education at District 75 of the New York City Board of Education. "The Festival is a time to celebrate the creative accomplishments of students throughout New York City as an inclusive community and to acknowledge the world of options that the arts provide to all of us," added Buck.

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