40 Days, 60 Countries, Hundreds of Young Artists: The VSA Digital Arts Festival

Join us for a virtual field trip that can encourage students to study and respond to the arts! Starting on June 16, 2015, examples of the positive power of the arts will be on full digital display, courtesy of the 40 Days around the World Digital Arts Festival. This celebration brings together people of all abilities from all over the world through international exchanges of art exhibitions, educational materials, art performances, and professional development materials.

Under the leadership of Jean Kennedy Smith, VSA asks not what others can do for them, but how VSA may help children and young adults with a focus on those with special needs. Initially called Very Special Arts, VSA was created by Ambassador Smith to be an organization that would provide people with disabilities opportunities to achieve their educational and professional goals through the arts. Today, this excellent organization encourages people of all abilities, and teaches all of us to advocate for those with special needs.

For 40 days, you can take part this international festival showcasing collaborative works from 60 countries and 37 states through 40 unique projects–all accessible for free on the Internet.

Backdrop PCHSArt for Autism Tennessee has participated in 40 Days around the World by facilitating two projects: an animation workshop for students with autism held at Hiwassee College, and Polk County High School’s drama production, “A Cup of Jo.”

The animations produced during the Hiwassee workshop will be showcased on June 22nd alongside an animation from a partner program in one of our exchange countries, Israel.  The next day, June 23rd, “A Cup of Jo” will be shown along with a play by students from De LaSalle College in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The students we worked with for both projects learned valuable skills; for example, students at the animation workshop learned a great deal about creating stop-motion animations frame by frame. Likewise, Polk County High School students learned to create a realistic backdrop for a coffee shop, planning the design of items like menu boards on graph paper and scaling them up to create full-sized sets. Several members of the production team pointed out that actual coffee shop employees might be asked to perform similar tasks.

Experience the event that is bringing countries, cultures, and people together! The 40 Days around the World Digital Arts Festival will be launched on June 16 at www.40days.vsatn.org. I encourage you to visit the website today and sign up for email notifications when the festival begins.

Special thanks to playwright, Dr. Deanne Collins, for teaching play production, John Clark and Vienna Coffee Company for contributing the beautiful coffee beans sacks we used in the play, and to VSA Tennessee for making the collaboration possible.

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