It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.
~ W. Edwards Deming
First, a little bad news: The U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program has been cut, causing the International/ National Very Special Arts (VSA) office to be reduced from 35 people to 7, and resulting in their being absorbed into the Education Department (now referred as: VSA and Accessibility Department) at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The annual funding that VSA South Carolina receives through our VSA affiliation will be drastically cut starting October 1 – from $106,000 to possibly $30,000, an amount that is as yet unclear but nonetheless, major. In addition The S.C. Department of Education, Office of Exceptional Children no longer has funds for VSA South Carolina, resulting in a $50,000 reduction as well. As an immediate result, we have had to put most all of our contractual VSA SC Teaching Artists and some programs on hold.
An expert on organizational management has noted:
The staff and board of VSA South Carolina are intent on the survival of the organization. We understand that change will be necessary. We know that we will look different in the coming year and we are fully committed to serving the people who benefit from our programs. We also know that because VSA South Carolina has been providing strong programs in the arts for people with disabilities for the past 25 years, we have developed a base of support that includes: foundations, state governmental sources and individuals. A federal and state budget cut, critical though it is, will not put this organization out of business!
Now, some good news: We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of needs to meet. In fact, our “wish list” of needs we want to address in locations around the state has grown! So, in light of Mr. Deming’s words in the above quote, we are going to roll with the changes, plan accordingly, and then continue to conduct our mission of creating a community where South Carolinians with disabilities can learn through, participate in and access the arts.
But, as we contemplate changes at our office, we need you to help in our efforts of filling the gap caused by the federal and state budget cut. If you have never made a financial donation, please make your first donation NOW. If you have been an occasional donor, please become an annual donor. If you have been a regular donor, please consider increasing the amount you would normally contribute. Also, feel free to tell us which of our programs and services are most important to you as we move forward.
Our programs have been highly valued by the entire community – especially young people, artists and arts patrons with disabilities. But in order to survive this funding cut, VSA South Carolina will, in the near term, place most of our student mentoring and community residency programs on hiatus. After this fall, we will probably need to put our school residency programs on hold.
However, all our core Textile ( Batik) school and community residency programs, contractual hiring of artists with disabilities, partnership access collaborations, access assistance to state arts organizations, and professional development opportunities for teaching artists – will continue although the number of opportunities (residencies, workshops, etc.) will need to be decreased.
Change is upon us but, with your help, we are ready to make our new future!
Please mail your donation today to: VSA South Carolina
c/o S C Arts Commission
1800 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Thanking you in advance,
LaMondre Pough, President, Board of Directors
Julia Brown, Executive Director
P.S. VSA South Carolina is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. If you itemize deductions, your contribution is fully tax deductible on your federal return.