‘Getting to Know You’ at the 39th Annual VSA Festival (video)

Celebrating creativity and inclusivity, OCDE and the statewide arts organization known as VSA California are once again partnering to deliver arts education and appreciation to people of all abilities at the 39th Annual VSA Festival.

Thousands of children, parents, teachers and professional artists are expected to take part in the event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 at the Westfield MainPlace shopping center in Santa Ana. There, students and adults associated with special education programs will have an opportunity to create and exhibit artwork and display their talents in writing, dance, music, theater and visual arts.

Students participate in VSA festival activitiesThe public is also invited to attend, and art from the festival will stay on display in the mall from April 16 through May 10.

Each year, a theme is selected and lesson plans are developed to help teachers in utilizing the arts in their classrooms. The theme for this year is “Getting to Know You.”

Phyllis Berenbeim, an OCDE consultant to the event, says the VSA Festival helps build self-esteem and pride, as it enables all participants to be recognized for their work. And there are other benefits.

“Through the festival, families are able to celebrate in the success of their children and adult artists,” she said. “For visitors, it increases public awareness of the value of the arts in the lives of people with disabilities.”

VSA Festival art displayOCDE has participated in this event since 1976, and each year it has continued to grow. According to Berenbeim, who came on board in 1977, the number of teachers involved has increased, as has the support of local organizations that serve people with disabilities.

The 39th Annual VSA Festival will feature free activities at stations throughout the mall, including an exhibit of 1,000 pieces of art, along with face-painting, performances, hands-on arts workshops and more. Student-teachers from the University of California, Irvine will also be on hand to serve as volunteers and workshop assistants, giving them an opportunity to work with students who have a variety of abilities.

Westfield MainPlace is located at 2800 Main St. in Santa Ana. You can find more information here.