• Since 1989, MIU IV’s Very Special Arts has celebrated the abilities of special needs students (K-12) through an art exhibit held at Grove City College. From the 30 participants 20 years ago to the 800 participants in last year, our regional exhibit brings together students, teachers, families and the general public at an opening reception where the young artists receive certificates and programs listing all participants.

    VSA Arts (formerly Very Special Arts) is an international nonprofit organization affiliated with the education programs of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. It is designed to give special needs children and adults the opportunity to develop and showcase their creative abilities. Very Special Arts is founded on the belief that the arts are a universal language that challenges people to look beyond themselves and celebrate their diversity.

2021 Very Special Arts

2021 Call for Entries

  • Call for Entries

    Since we are facing an incredibly challenging time, we are doing our best to keep everyone safe and follow state recommendations. We also want to recognize and honor our talented students. In order to achieve these goals, the Very Special Arts Exhibit will be virtual for 2021.

    Please note the following changes:

    • We are asking that teachers send us a picture of the entered artwork via the registration form. Do not send actual art to MIU IV.
    • We will need a parent permission slip to use the students' names and art in the virtual show.

    Please send a parent permission slip to your student's parents/guardians.

    Please see the guidelines below for more detailed information. All entries are due by February 26, 2021. You will be notified when the Virtual Exhibit is ready for viewing.

    Click here for the Registration Form 

    New Guidelines for 2021 Very Special Arts Virtual Exhibit

    • Take a digital photograph or a screenshot of your student's artwork, name the file the student's name, and attach it to the registration form. There is a link at the bottom of the registration form to attach a file.
    • Please send a jpg, gif, or PDF.
    • Send the picture as is. We will edit, crop, and size as needed.
    • Do not send artwork to the IU.
    • The fillable parent permission slip is below. Please send it to your students’ parents/guardians. All parent permissions slips should be returned to Devon Agostino at devon.agostino@miu4.org.
    • Entries are limited to one piece per student.
    • Mediums acceptable for submission include drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery, weaving, printmaking, and digital art.
    • Entries must be from the following special populations: Academic Support-Learning Support, Life Skills Support, Emotional Support, Sensory Support, Deaf or Hearing Support, Blind or Visually Impaired, Speech or Language Support, Physical Support, Autistic Support, Multidisabilities Support.
      Students K-12, from public or private schools, in Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties are eligible.


    Questions? Devon Agostino, devon.agostino@miu4.org.


What Teachers Say

  • The Very Special Arts Exhibit truly is “very special”  the MIU4 is providing an outstanding opportunity for children to be able to showcase their creative spirit and it provides them with a very important chance to shine.  The generosity of the sponsors has provided our students with beautiful medals and fantastic art kits but, even more special is that this has helped foster a newfound confidence and pride that makes a  lasting impression.  Thank you for the high level of quality that this exhibit maintains each year.
    - Yvonne DelFratte, Elementary Art Teacher, Sharpsville Area School District.

    “I just wanted to say thank you again for giving our students a chance to shine! For some of them, it is the only chance they have to shine and that is why your job is so important and special.”
    - Linda Jacobs, Art Teacher, Union Area School District.

    I had a lot of very thankful parents email me to let me know how much they appreciated the event. Thanks for having it!
    - Miss Katie DeAndrea, Art Teacher, Mars Area Primary Center &, Elementary School, Mars Area School district want to thank you for all your hard work with the Very Special Arts Exhibit. It is a HUGE undertaking and I was so impressed with the show. One student took his grandmother (to the reception) because the portrait was of his Grandfather, and he said it made her cry. She hadn’t seen it before that.
    - Michelle Dobi, Laurel Elementary, Laurel School District

    The Very Special Arts Show is a wonderful opportunity for my students to shine. For many of these students, such opportunities are few and far between. The Very Special Arts Show allows each student to create something that they are proud of and then displays the artwork in a real art gallery which showcases each students’ submission in a beautiful and professional manner. And if this weren’t enough to build the self-esteem of my students, the awards given to the students on the day of the reception are the “icing on the cake”. From the medals to the tee shirts, to the art boxes and the certificates for participation, all enhance the overall experience for these children and make them feel important and valued. But the experience even goes further than this. The Very Special Arts Show does much to help families feel that their children are appreciated as students in their schools. They are able to attend the artists’ reception as a family unit, and they are able to celebrate their child’s achievement.

    Words cannot express how grateful I am as a special needs teacher that my students and their families have this opportunity. Thank you to everyone who makes the art show come together each year. It seems to grow and become more wonderful with each new year, and my students and I look forward to participating and seeing the wonderful results. Your efforts are appreciated by the staff and students of Hillview Elementary School!
    - Deborah Vechnak, Special Education Teacher, Grove City Area School District

    Thank yo so much for giving our students the wonderful opportunity to demonstrate how gifted they truly are! This helps improve their self-esteem and feeling of success. It also gives the community a sense of pride to display their students’ artwork. I am proud of my students at Farrell and appreciate the time and effort to so such a wonderful job with the Children’s Art Exhibit.
    - Tina Rodgers, Life Skills Teacher, Farrel Area School District



Program Contacts

Registration Form and Parent Permission Slip

  • One Registration Form must be filled out for each student. Link coming soon.

    One Parent Permission Slip must be sent for each student. Link coming soon.