VSA Arts of Rhode Island -  Vision, Artistic, Strength, Promoting the creative power of people with disabilities
The Arts
Artist Career Info


Access the Arts



Unfortunately, Access the Arts was NOT funded by the Rhode Island Department of Education but we are continuing to create arts-in-education programs as funding is developed.

If you have any questions please feel free to email us at programs@vsartsri.org

"As children, we all learn the basic verbal skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. But just as important are the non verbal ways we send messages to each other: dance, music, and the visual arts. For these enrich our lives and make us more fully human. VSA arts has helped demonstrate that the arts are a tool for learning. Programs in the dramatic arts have led many children, whether disabled or not, to be better readers. Through music, many have learned to count. Dance can teach physical coordination. The visual arts can improve fine motor skills. All children should be encouraged to tap their imagination through the arts."

Ernest L. Boyer President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


Through Access the Arts, VSA arts RI seeks to:

  • create opportunities for intensive "hands on" arts experiences for students with disabilities and their teachers in Rhode Island schools.
  • develop awareness of the local arts and cultural resources available to the educational community through the collaboration of various arts/cultural specialists and special educators.
  • increase awareness of the creative potential of all people, and to promote the importance of the arts in the education of students with disabilities.

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Amount of Awards

Awards of $500 to $2,500 will be made. Proposals must fall within this range. The total cost of a project may exceed $2,500, but the budget must identify the source(s) of any additional funding. All grant money awarded from the Access the Arts program must be expended by June 22nd of the following academic year.

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All Rhode Island schools, public or private, serving K-12 students with disabilities are eligible. Proposals may be submitted by a classroom teacher, a school principal, a school district superintendent, or an agency director. Each applicant/ site may submit only one (1) proposal per site per granting cycle.

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Focus of Projects

Areas of focus may include:

  • Visual arts, drama, dance, literature, music, etc. taught as separate and distinct subjects.
  • The arts used to strengthen or develop other basic learning skills.
  • The arts used to integrate core curriculum.
  • The arts used to develop and reinforce appropriate social behaviors.
  • The arts used to develop age appropriate, leisure or vocational skills.
  • The arts used as a vehicle to include students with disabilities into school or community activities.

Programs are most meaningful and beneficial when they are standards based and relate the arts experiences to the individualized cognitive, social, emotional, physical needs and interests of the students.

A student with speech problems or limited language development, for example, may be able to convey thoughts and feelings through painting or drawing. Verbal communication may improve through creative writing or vocal play using puppets of the child's own creation.

Arts activities may be extremely effective in teaching and practicing social interaction through cooperation, collaboration, and learning to respond to another's artistic work.

Sensory experiences can help students to identify, differentiate, and communicate qualities such as texture, color, shape, sound, rhythm, temperature, smell, etc.

Arts involvement also practices creative problem-solving, "stretching" to find alternatives to what previously appeared to be unsolvable problems.
The artistic process, with its emphasis on creativity, experimentation, and active participation, is as valuable as the outcome or "product" of the arts project.

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VSA arts Rhode Island will provide grant applicants with a roster of artists. These artists have been selected for the roster according to the merit of their work, and according to their ability to communicate the creative process to student's diverse learning styles.

An applicant may interview artists from the roster as well as non-roster artists for their project. If a non roster artist is preferred, the applicant is required to forward background information on the artist's expertise to VSA arts Rhode Island with the grant application. We encourage teachers and site coordinators to take an active role in the interviewing and selection of the artist.

Artists may be compensated at a daily or an hourly rate. The standard rate for a residency day is $150, which covers all off site planning and preparation, travel and a minimum of three hours of student contact. If it is impossible or inappropriate for an artist to have three hours of on-site student contact per day, the artist may be hired at an hourly rate.

If an artist is to be compensated at an hourly rate, this rate cannot exceed $50 per hour or $150 per day with VSA arts RI grant monies.

All contracts, fees and schedules of payment are to be agreed upon by the artist and the grant recipient and timely payments to the artists are the responsibility of the grant recipient.

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RI General Assembly

VSA arts RI wants to let your local elected officials know about grants awarded in their districts. For this information contact your local Board of Canvassers or RI Secretary of State via the web at www.rilin.state.ri.us

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Orientation Meetings

An orientation workshop will be held prior to each application deadline. All applicants are invited to attend this workshop for assistance in the design of arts programming and in the completion of an application for funding. First time applicants are particularly urged to attend.

A second orientation meeting is mandatory for Access The Arts grant recipients. At least one coordinator from each site which is awarded a grant MUST attend this second orientation meeting. The time and date of this meeting will be announced when grants are awarded. The required second orientation is to familiarize grant recipients with the roles and responsibilities of a site coordinator as well as all necessary report forms.

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Training and Evaluation

VSA arts Rhode Island strongly encourages applicants to schedule a minimum of one hour of specific planning/training with the artist before the project activities commence and an additional hour for evaluation after the completion of the project.

Teacher(s) and artist(s) should use the planning time to discuss the project, its concept or theme, and what they individually hope to accomplish. The teacher(s) will be able to share information about the students and what access accommodations may be required for optimal student participation. Artist(s) will be able to demonstrate for the teacher(s) the art skills and activities that he/she will teach. The teacher(s) and artist(s) should explore the particular Fine Arts GSE and ways in which the art project can be used to enhance or integrate the core curriculum.

At the final evaluation session the artist(s) and teacher(s) can discuss the aspects of the project which they found to be the most or the least effective. The artist(s) will also be able to review or reinforce skills which the teacher(s) has/have learned from the planning session and throughout the course of the project.

At the close of any project we hope that teachers will have gained job embedded professional development in new arts skills which they will continue to utilize and incorporate into their teaching practices. VSA arts RI believes the arts are basic and essential, not peripheral, in the education of all children.

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VSA arts Rhode Island requires that you publicize our Access The Arts grant, should you receive one, in all print or broadcast announcements, interviews, feature articles, advertisements and on any art installations or materials created with this grant money.

VSA arts Rhode Island will provide copies of specific logo and credit requirements for publicity upon notification of a grant award. When crediting VSA arts Rhode Island always use the full name. You may abbreviate the state name Rhode Island to its initials RI and use VSA arts RI, but do not use the abbreviation "VSARI".

VSA arts RI is working to raise public awareness of the need for quality arts programming for individuals with disabilities, and toward that end your cooperation is invaluable.

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Final Report

A final report from the site will be due no later than 30 days, after the completion of the project. If reports are not submitted on time, future funding may be jeopardized.

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Review Process

Each application is reviewed by the VSA arts Rhode Island staff for eligibility and completeness. Questions or problems relating to eligibility or application completeness will be referred back to the applicant.

Applications will be reviewed by a VSA arts Rhode Island advisory panel of artists and educators. The panel advises the Executive Director of VSA arts Rhode Island on the distribution of funds.

Funding is allocated on the basis of overall merit of program design, according to the following criteria:

Artistic Quality

  • originality of proposal content and approach
  • appropriate and qualified personnel
  • standards based, in alignment with RI Fine Arts Grade Span Expectations

    Commitment to Arts Programming

  • accessibility including universal design for learning practices
  • potential for on going programming
  • evidence that the Access the Arts project supplements, and does not supplant, existing arts programs.


  • clarity of goals and objectives
  • feasibility of project
  • provision for sufficient preparatory and follow up activities
  • realistic and accurate budget
  • adequate promotion/publicity planned
  • plan for project of sufficient length to allow students meaningful contact with the artist and the art form


  • a site coordinator who has sufficient time to administer publicize, document and evaluate the project.

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Other Considerations

  • Grant support is to be used for expenses related to the specific education project such as the production, presentation and exhibition of art. Support, or artworks from support may not be used for benefit events or profit generation activities. While project activities can be used to develop appropriate vocational skills, the grant is not intended to be used to support a small business. Any funds generated from activities should be accounted for in budget as income to offset project expenses.

  • Grant applications are considered on a competitive basis. No applicant is guaranteed funding, even if all basic criteria are met, whether funded never or many times before.
  • In the event that requests for funding exceed program capabilities, geographic distribution and concern for balance between long and short term projects may be considered in the allocation of funds.
  • Grant funds must be expended by June 22 of the fiscal year. After an Access The Arts grant is awarded, you are required to notify VSA arts Rhode Island immediately in writing of any substantial change in the way the grant is to be administered. You must receive approval from VSA arts RI before such changes can take place. Failure to receive advance approval may result in reduction or cancellation of your grant award.

  • Former grantees who have outstanding Final Report are ineligible to apply if obligation still exists.

For more information and deadline dates contact:

VSA arts Rhode Island
500 Prospect Street
Pawtucket, RI 02860

Jeannine L. Chartier, Executive & Artistic Director

725-0247 (phone/tty) 725-0397 (fax)

programs@vsartsri.org (email)

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"Working to create a society where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts."

VSA arts Rhode Island
| 500 Prospect Street | Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860
Voice & TTY: 401.725.0247 | Fax: 401.725.0397