2011 marks the 12th year that Volkswagen Group of America has dedicated itself to supporting initiatives surrounding Americans with disabilities. As part of this on-going commitment, we recently celebrated the accomplishments of 15 young artists with disabilities at a Capitol Hill reception co-hosted with VSA. VSA is an international organization founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all. This also marks the 10th year that our company has worked with this important program.
The award-winning artists, who are all younger than 25, live with a disability. Their work was selected out of a field of more than 120 submissions through a highly competitive process that involved being juried by a panel of critical professional artists. Volkswagen Group recognized their accomplishments in the form of significant financial support—$2,000, $10,000, even $20,000 to the grand prize winner —to apply toward their education, art supplies, and studio space.
VSA Executive Director Betty Siegel commended our company for the vision and support we have provided over the last 10 years by helping more than 100 talented artists and providing more than $1 million to support young people with disabilities, including more than $400,000 in cash awards to artists.
The grand prize went to Dimelza Broche of Jacksonville, Fla. Her piece, Soul Reader, is an oil-on-canvas piece that we hope to have displayed at corporate headquarters in January, along with several of the other award-winning pieces.