When founded in 1974, the organization was named the National Committee - Arts for the Handicapped. In 1985 the name changed to Very Special Arts and in 2010 it became VSA. In 2011, VSA merged with the Kennedy Center's Office on Accessibility to become the Office of Access and VSA at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The VSA Emerging Young Artists Program, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program, for artists with disabilities, helps shape the future of the arts. The VSA Emerging Young Artists Program, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program, amplifies the voices of emerging artists with career development and professional empowerment.
VSA's competition programs provide a platform for emerging artists to share their talent in comparison with peers across the country and the globe. Pre-professional development opportunities, including lectures, seminars, and creative training provide skill-building and practical insight to prepare young artists to advance in their chosen field. Past VSA program recipients have gone on to successful careers in music, theater, and the visual arts.