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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is committed to engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education. A permanent collection of nearly 5,000 works of art on a riverfront campus offers more than 95,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities.

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Very Special Arts is a Community-Wide Experience



By Silvia Romero-Brown, Associate Director of Education

As one of the most unique arts-filled experiences one can have in a museum, Very Special Arts, or VSA is a combination of community involvement, diversity celebration, inspired volunteers, and happy children.

Photo by Ingrid Damiani

In its sixteenth year the VSA festival brings art-making, music, and the Cummer’s beautiful gardens to the hands and minds of students with a wide variety of disabilities.  The impact that an arts festival of this scale has on its thousands of participants is contagious.  The four day, museum-wide festival serves as a national model through its singularity and wide reach.

Photo by Ingrid Damiani

After six years of planning for and participating in this incredible week, I am thrilled to see familiar smiling faces of volunteers who are ready to selflessly celebrate the true meaning of the event: engaging kids through the arts.  Children of all ages can be seen creating art from clay, paper, and paint, as well as dancing, clapping, and singing with professional musicians.

Photo by Ingrid Damiani

Each year teachers, parents, and walk-up volunteers alike share their stories of inspiration of their role during the VSA festival and how it has changed their lives.  Students who attend share the impact of the experience as well, relating to feelings of success while painting or calm activities enjoyed in the gardens.

For me, this special week continues to motivate, humble, and warm my heart all at the same time.

For more information, please call Jan Thomas at 904-355-0630.

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