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ANNOUNCING 

Coleen Downey is the new executive director of VSA Michigan. She is the former director of the  Grosse Pointe ART Center, Rotary Club of Grand Rapids and Thornapple Arts Council of Barry County. Coleen has Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Theater from Oakland University.

She has sung leading roles with Michigan Opera Theatre opposite Kathleen Battle, Jerry Hadley and Judy Kaye. She served vocal music apprenticeships with Michigan Opera Theatre for two seasons, and with The Lake George Opera Festival in New York, and The Spoleto Festival USA in South Carolina. She has been a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Pontiac Oakland Symphony, St. Clair Shores Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and the Elgin Symphony and Symphonette in Elgin Ilinois. She was the soprano soloist on the Grammy nominated CD “Hymn to the Sun” recorded by the William Ferris Chorale in Chicago, Illinois.

She toured nationally with The “Prince Street Players” of New York for two years as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Coleen has performed regional theatre throughout the United States, in feature films and on radio and television. She currently performs as a professional actress/comedian with the Dinner Detective and ComedySportz, and teaches private voice lessons in her home studio

VSA Michigan focuses on Arts Education and Access

People with disabilities have much to contribute. The arts can empower the powerless to express themselves and communicate, tearing down preconceptions. That is what VSA Michigan is about: inclusion, accessibility, arts for all.

We believe

  • Every person deserves access to appropriate learning experiences in the arts.
  • The arts promote understanding and communication for everyone.
  • The arts are more than a product, they are a process – it’s the journey that counts.
  • The arts in their many forms enhance a person’ humanity.

We focus on ability, not disability. We focus on creativity and achievement.

VSA Michigan seeks artists to teach in Michigan classrooms through its Artists-in-Residence Programs.  Click on Flyer for Seeking Teaching Artists and Application for Teaching Artist  If you are interested in sharing your art with learners during the 2017-18 school year, complete the application and email with a brief bio and resume to info@vsami.org, or send via snail mail to 111 E. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202.

VSA Michigan announces its 2017 Community of Practice Professional Development (link)workshop on August 20-22, at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center on Higgins Lake.  This professional development opportunity is available to educators, teaching artists and community arts education providers wishing to gain new and unique strategies for their practice.  Click on COP Registration Form.  Register by August 1, 2017 for a reduced fee.  Scholarships are available for teaching artists.  SCHECs are available for educators seeking credits to maintain teacher certification.

These children are participating in a VSA Michigan Artists-in-Residence program in one of over 100 classrooms in Michigan.

Focus on Arts Education: In 2016 VSAMI residency programs engaged 734 students, 596 of whom have disabilities, 45 classroom teachers and 112 para-educators in 19 Michigan schools. A total of 475 hours was spent learning creative dance, drama, music, storytelling, filmmaking, and/or visual arts. Over 35 adults with disabilities were engaged in creating art in the Copper Country VSA Art Class and Club Create programs in Swartz Greek and Clarkston. A total of 98 artists and educators received 5-20 hours of professional development provided by VSAMI in a series of 6 workshops. During 2017 we are providing residencies in 34 schools, and art classes in Hancock, Swartz Creek and Clarkston. Our professional development workshop is scheduled to take place August 20-22, at the MacMullan Conference Center on Higgins Lake. Contact us, if you’d like participate.

Focus on Access: People with disabilities are a growing segment of the community as patrons, administrators, artists, students, older adults and benefactors. Yet, many people with disabilities who want to participate in the arts cannot, because they encounter barriers to access. VSA Michigan is uniquely qualified to offer tools and strategies to enhance an organization’s ability to engage this vital community and achieve greater ADA compliance. If you are an arts or cultural organization needing assistance in making your facility, programs and communication tools more accessible contact us.

If you are interested in assisting us, contact us. We will train you on how to conduct an access audit. We are preparing to visit cultural arts events, and observe access needs and features of the venues. We need your help! Get involved!