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VSA Michigan is excited to announce the transformation of the organization. We continue to provide the same outstanding programs for children, youth and adults, but under a new name that more accurately reflects our work, and with a dynamic new Executive Director. In the coming weeks we will be transitioning our website, Facebook page and other social media to our new name and logo: Michigan Ats Access.

Our new Executive Director is no stranger to the organization. Dr. Michael Gielniak initially engaged VSA Michigan 20 years ago to provide arts experiences in the center-based programs of Macomb Intermediate School District, where he was the county Fine Arts Consultant. He has also conducted several formal evaluations of the organization's grant funded programs. He joined the Board of Trustees in 2018 and was instrumental in reorganizing operations in collaboration with Board Chair, Lora Frankel. 

Dr. Gielniak is a musician, educator, and researcher. He has worked with schools, districts and states across the country, and in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in an effort to redefine learning around systems of continuous improvement. In 2009 Dr. Gielniak led the research team for the groundbreaking study of the academic and financial effects of education technology called Project RED. He is a co-author of the research report, The Technology Factor, Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness, which has become the most widely used resource globally for the proper implementation of 1:1 technology in schools. Dr. Gielniak is also the co-author of two other books: Revolutionizing Education through Technology, and Technology for Learning: A Guidebook for Change, both of which are valuable resources for the proper implementation of education technology.

Prior to his work with education technology, Dr. Gielniak was an acclaimed arts educator. Both a Fulbright Scholar and an Emmy Award winner, he has collaborated with Detroit Public Television, Michigan Music Educators Association, Michigan Art Education Association, Michigan School Vocal Music Association, National Arts Education Association, and Artserve. He also served as a grant reviewer for Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Department of Education. He holds degrees in elementary and secondary instruction, Education Leadership, and his doctoral work was in the cognitive neurosciences domain. Dr. Gielniak left his position as Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan to take on the leadership of the organization and we are thrilled to have such a visionary leader at the helm of Michigan Arts Access.

Focus on Education

This school year VSAMI is engaging 980 students with disabilities, 95 classroom teachers and 211 paraprofessionals in an average of 8 hours of learning in and through the arts taught by professional dancers, actors, musicians, storytellers and visual artists. Our Artists-in-Residence Program reached students across the state through district partnerships in Alma, Bloomfield Hills, Cheboygan, Clio, Detroit, Flint, Flushing, Gaylord, Grand Blanc, Hancock, Houghton, Marquette, Negaunee, Oak Park, Mt. Pleasant, Onaway, Petoskey, St. Louis and Southfield.

We are excited about the expansion of our Club Create, a drop-in program for adults with disabilities. We now have programs in Clarkston, Midtown Detroit, Hancock and Swartz Creek, with additional clubs opening soon.

Over 30 artists and teachers participated in our transformative Community of Practice retreat at Higgins Lake last summer. The 3-day immersion in the arts, arts integration and accommodation is always a rejuvenating experience that helps teachers build the skills and confidence to integrate more arts and creative experiences into their instruction.  And it provides our teaching artists with tools and strategies to teach their art to differentiated learners.

We culminated the year with a series of VSA Festivals in Genesee County and the 28th annual VSA Southeast Regional Festival on May 17 and 18 sponsored by University of Michigan–Dearborn, Michigan State University Community Music School in Detroit and CVS Health. More than 350 students, their teachers and paraprofessional, and our teaching artists celebrated the arts, shared talents, and participated in onsite arts activities.

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 offers tools and strategies to enhance an organization’s ability to engage this vital community and achieve ADA compliance.

If you are an arts or cultural organization and would like to discuss how to make your facility, programs and communication tools more accessible, contact us.
We can conduct an access audit, provide recommendations and work with you on accessible implementation of your organization's programs. Contact us today to ensure your business or organization is inclusive and provides people with disabilities access and the ability to meaningfully participate in the great things you offer.

The programs and services of VSA Michigan are provided to all, regardless of age, race, creed, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation and ethnicity.