VSA Arts of Hawaii-Pacific Receives "Award of Excellence in Public Awareness and Advocacy"

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Susan Miller, (808) 455-6002
Center on Disability Studies
Posted: Jul 13, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the national Vision, Strength & Artistic Expression (VSA) arts annual meeting last month in Washington D.C., VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific received the "Award of Excellence in Public Awareness and Advocacy" for its "Artists Mean Business" Legislative Summit and the opening of the Hawaiʻi Artsplace with the UH Manoa College of Education, Center on Disability Studies.

VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific partners with organizations such as the UH Manoa College of Education; Hawaiʻi Services on Deafness; Pacific Business Center; UH Manoa College of Business Administration; Department of Education; Department of Health; the Hawaiʻi Consortium for the Arts; the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as well as many other organizations to promote the power of creativity and access the career opportunities in the arts and all aspects of creative industries for people with disabilities.

The "Artists Mean Business in Hawaiʻi" initiative is a statewide effort of social change that concentrates on blending arts education and creative industries with community partnerships that embrace entrepreneurial principles. It is tied to a recent 2004 state Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR 199) to convene a statewide taskforce with the Hawaiʻi State Workforce Development Council and the UH MaŻnoa College of Education to develop a comprehensive
statewide strategic plan to formalize creative industries as viable careers and employment pathways for people with disabilities.

Along with the Department of Health, the University of Hawaiʻi have evidenced their long-term support of VSA arts‘ philosophy and initiatives by granting VSA arts the use of a building in Pearl City to development a statewide Center for Creative Industries, called Hawaiʻi‘s Artsplace (HAPA). The mission of HAPA is to provide career planning, meaningful employment, mentoring by professional artists as educators, raise public visibility, build community outreach, and create a learning environment that reflects and honors the diversity of the community.

As an arts-focused, creative vocational school, HAPA offers pre-service training for arts instructors and direct-service providers of people with developmental disabilities as well as small-business development courses for artists with disabilities. HAPA was established by VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific because there was no other vehicle in place to address the needs of people with disabilities who desire to hone and cultivate their talents and abilities to become meaningfully employed in creative industries.

"The state of Hawaiʻi has a timely and important opportunity to embark on a movement toward policy and systems change that will positively impact the lives of 230,000 Hawaiʻi residents with disabilities, focusing on creative career opportunities," said Susan Miller, community collaboration coordinator for VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific and a faculty member of the University of Hawaiʻi College of Education, Center on Disability Studies.

VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific is the local affiliate of the national VSA arts in Washington, D.C., an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts whose core funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific was originally established in Honolulu in 1984, and was reestablished as a 501(c)(3) statewide corporation in 2002.

For more information on VSA arts of Hawaiʻi-Pacific, visit www.vsarts.hawaii.edu or contact Susan Miller at (808) 455-6002.