VSA Ohio
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77 South High Street, Second Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Ms. Erin J. Hoppe
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CEO/Executive Director
Ms. Erin J. Hoppe
Executive Director
Board Chair
Mr. Thomas R. Kromer
Retired, Deloitte Tax LLP

To empower people with disabilities, creatively and inclusively, through the arts.

Organization Overview

Impact Statement


  • VSAO increased access to creative careers for artists with disabilities through one-on-one consultations, launch of a new Artist Atlas e-mail, multiple workshops, and the Pearl Alley Farmers Market program. 

  • VSAO presented the third ReelAbilities Film Festival: Columbus. Hosted at five locations, 350 people saw films telling universal stories through a disability lens. The festival changed perceptions and speakers highlighted the disability narrative.

  • VSA Ohio celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with partners during ADA25Columbus and ReelAbilities Columbus, and the 40th anniversary of VSA International with a Zine Exchange and VSA International Quilt Project.

  • VSAO led year four of the groundbreaking Arts & Autism in Ohio Initiative. With partners, we launched an online, accessible arts directory (Nexus) and published a Resource Guide Series for families, teaching artists, and cultural administrators.

  • VSAO presented the first Building Access by Design Institute in partnership with Ohio History Connection. The day-long professional development seminar brought 100 people from across Ohio to Columbus to learn about disability, access, and inclusion.

2016 GOALS

  • The Arts & Autism Initiative will have a lasting impact through dissemination of our Resource Guide Series, growth in media awareness, and presentation of the Arts & Autism Conference in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.

  • VSAO will celebrate its 30th anniversary of nonprofit incorporation in 2016. Efforts will include curating 30 blog posts from constituents and developing a #30 Friends program. 

  • VSA Ohio will achieve our current strategic plan goals to:

    1) Provide stakeholders with tools, resources, and opportunities;

    2) Increase access to the arts and cultural participation; and

    3) Invest in infrastructure and financial sustainability.

  • VSAO will increase organizational sustainability, governance, and services by upgrading hardware (computers), upgrading software (File Maker Pro), and working with Measurement Resources Company to write a three-year strategic plan.

  • VSAO will present promotional screenings and programs for the next ReelAbilities Columbus Festival. Screenings will take place in partnership with existing film festivals, events, and institutional trainings.

Background Statement

VSA Ohio (VSAO) is an affiliate of VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith 40 years ago. In 1979, Ohio presented the first regional Very Special Arts Ohio Festival. By 1986, Very Special Arts Ohio was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) with offices at Wright State University presenting festivals, newsletters, exhibitions, and arts education experiences. In 1991, VSAO moved to the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts in Columbus and expanded programming with training for educators, art therapy, and a statewide art exhibition.

In 2000, the VSA affiliate network changed names to respect constituents with a more progressive brand, and became VSA arts of Ohio. In 2006, VSA arts international became an affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, bringing additional resources and best practices to affiliates. In 2010, the affiliate network again rebranded, and VSAO became VSA Ohio, the state organization on arts and disability. Today, the VSA network connects 35 domestic and 50 international affiliates.

VSA Ohio celebrates 30 years of service in May 2016. VSAO is a community that connects inspired artists with their passion, service providers with resources, and all citizens with creative opportunities. Ever-evolving programs provide an inclusive environment in which people with disabilities are given the opportunity to celebrate life through the arts, education, and creative expression. A network of local, regional, and state-level partners, grassroots efforts, and twenty-first century outreach strategies allow VSAO to serve many counties, with our primary impact in central Ohio. VSAO is an advocate with services impacting more than 20,000 lives in classrooms, galleries, and other community spaces. Public awareness efforts in traditional print, online, radio, and television outlets ensure thousands more indirectly benefit and learn about VSAO's mission and services.

Statement from Ms. Erin J. Hoppe, Executive Director

VSA Ohio makes the arts and arts education accessible to people with disabilities. We accomplish this through meaningful services, impactful programs, strong and diverse partnerships, and commitment to responsible governance and operations. VSAO’s staff and board are dedicated to continued improvement, demonstrated through the implementation of best practices, evaluation efforts, and flexibility in program administration. VSAO is a state affiliate of VSA, a program of The Kennedy Center. Our connection to these networks affords access to information, best practices, and operational guidance. Our ability to disseminate high-quality resources to Ohio advances our position as a go-to organization on arts and disability, and allows us to broadly promote Ohio’s achievements. With a Columbus office, our work has a primary impact on central Ohio. We have a demonstrated record of success. In 2016, we will celebrate 30 years of service with programs and development efforts.

Statement from Mr. Thomas R. Kromer , Retired, Deloitte Tax LLP

I've been involved with VSAO since 1995. My introduction was innocent enough when a friend invited me to attend an event. I was immediately impressed by the mission and passion I encountered. I decided I must get involved. I'm still here. It is my honor and duty to continue to advance access to the arts and education for all. The organization is blessed with a small but dedicated staff, diverse supporters, and a hardworking board. We stream our operations to increase efficiency, sustainability, and outreach. Our board diligently monitors our financial position in alignment with services, programs, and resources. We have adapted to the new economy and are looking forward to the future. That is not to say we do not have challenges. There are never enough resources to do all that needs to be done. Fortunately, when a challenge arises, so does our desire to meet it. The impact I see at every program, energizes me, and others, to make a difference. VSA Ohio makes a difference!



Ms. Erin J. Hoppe, 
Term Start 4/2008 
Compensated Yes 
Biographical Statement

Erin Hoppe has over a decade of experience as cultural administrator, researcher, and advocate. Erin is currently the executive director of VSA Ohio, the state organization on arts and disability, where she makes the arts and arts education accessible for all Ohioans. Erin holds a master's degree in cultural policy and arts administration from The Ohio State University (2009) and a bachelor's degree in economics with a minor in art history from the University of California, San Diego (2003). She was a program assistant for the Partners in Education program at The Kennedy Center and interned for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Government Affairs Office and the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Policy and Analysis. Erin was president of Central Ohio Student Advocates for the Arts and a Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders Fellow. She currently serves as a Barnett Ambassador and on boards for Ohio Citizens for the Arts, Columbus Arts Marketing Association, and VSA International.

Additional Organization Information
Number of Full-Time Staff:
Number of Part-Time Staff:
Number of Volunteers: 30 
Staff Retention Rate: 100% 


Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Fundraising Plan Yes
Management Succession/Training Plan No
Organization Policies and Procedures Yes
Strategic Plan Yes
Years Plan Considers 1
Current Plan Adopted 12/2015
Additional Organization Information

VSAO collaborates with myriad public/private agencies, arts organizations, educational institutions, and more. Partnership with the Ohio Arts Council supports creative careers and Arts & Autism Initiative. The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and OhioDance facilitate arts residency programs. Central Ohio partners include Columbus Museum of Art, Gateway Film Center, Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Vanderelli Room, and The Ohio State University.


Local Governing Board
Board Chair Mr. Thomas R. Kromer,
Board Chair Term 7/2014 -  6/2017  
Board Members
Mrs. Mary Kay Barno,  
Ms. Jody Beall,  
Ms. Laura Lazor,  
Mr. L. Scott Lissner,  
Mrs. Michelle Moskowitz Brown,  
Mr. Stephen G. Pleasnick,  
Ms. Greta Robertson,  
Mrs. Elizabeth Sammons,  
Mr. Joseph Supina,  
Mr. Nate Thomson,  
Additional Organization Information
Board Meetings Annually
Board Meeting Attendance 82% 
Board Member Monetary Contributions 91%
Board Member In-kind Contributions 82%
Gender Female 55%
  Male 45%
Race African-American/Black 9%
  Asian-American/Pacific Islander 0%
  Caucasian 91%
  Hispanic/Latino 0%
  Native American/American Indian 0%
  Multi-Racial 0%
  Other 0%
Advisory Board
No members in the Advisory Board.


ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival: Columbus

ReelAbilities is the largest film and cultural festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of ordinary people with disabilities. The festival presents award-winning films, discussions, and engaging programs that bring together the community to explore, discuss, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. Columbus had the honor of hosting the third annual festival, bringing together 20 partners, a dozen volunteers, 400 attendees, nine films, and six supplemental programs across five venues. The festival also featured two Skype experiences and the first Building Access by Design Institute. Evaluation shows that ReelAbilities changes perceptions of disability and promotes inclusion. Promotional screenings and programs will be featured throughout the year at existing events such as Ohio Arts Day and VSAO's Day of Arts.

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Adaptation, Integration, and the Arts (AIA)

AIA was developed in 2002 to enhance teaching and learning in inclusive classrooms through arts-integrated curricula. Teaching artists and educators develop arts-integrated residency plans, incorporating art with existing curriculum, and aligning goals with content standards. Students with disabilities demonstrate increased participation and learning when arts activities are integrated into the curriculum; a positive and affirming environment for self-expression is created; students strengthen and increase their knowledge and skills in the arts; classroom teachers demonstrate use of arts integration; and teaching artists increase understanding of integration and inclusion. Last year AIA directly served 2,000 students and 250 educators, representing grades preK-12 in 22 schools. Over 5,000 community members attended events. VSAO is in year two of a three-year study by Measurement Resources Co. to quantitatively measure program impact and advance the field.

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Professional Development for Artists

VSAO supports independent artists with disabilities and disability art studios, helping them break down barriers and pursue creative careers. Online and social media efforts promote artists and their career advancements, such as the Artist Atlas e-mail. VSAO provides individual consultation to artists seeking assistance with portfolios or other creative career needs. In our fifth year of service, VSAO provides expanded technical assistance for the Ohio Arts Council’s Artists with Disabilities Access Program Grant; approximately 80 artists and organizations apply each year. Our Careers Brochure provides a basic map to artists and service providers, directing them to resources and services. Our Careers Workbook outlines how to start a creative career. Our Careers Workshop provides training on writing bios, applying for grants, and marketing. In celebration of our 30 year anniversary, VSAO will curate 30 blog posts to help build resumes and pay artists with disabilities for their work.

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Arts & Autism in Ohio Initiative

The Arts & Autism in Ohio Initiative is a ground-breaking initiative that responds to constituent inquiries seeking accessible opportunities for people with autism or sensory-friendly needs. In 2012, the Ohio Arts Council commissioned VSAO to conduct research around barriers and opportunities for increasing access. Findings led to the Initiative, which is unique in the U.S. Today, the Initiative includes a volunteer advisory group, a growing network of partners, and increased awareness of how to meet the participation needs of individuals with autism. In 2015, VSAO and the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence launched NEXUS, an online directory of opportunities, and VSAO and partners published the Arts & Autism in Ohio Resource Guide Series for cultural organizations, families, and teaching artists. The second Arts & Autism conference will take place at the Columbus Museum of Art in 2016. 

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Accessible Expressions Ohio (AEO)

Begun in 1995, Accessible Expressions Ohio is a statewide, juried, visual art exhibition and tour adding to the richness of cultural diversity throughout Ohio. AEO provides professional development opportunities for artists to create, exhibit, and sell their art, as well as the opportunity to present art by people with disabilities in inclusive settings. Adjudicators review entries to determine the 75-piece exhibit, which are then exhibited at an opening ceremony in Westerville in March. Named A Day of Arts for All, the opening ceremony includes awards, performances, and a career workshop. In April, the artwork is divided into tours and travels to 15-20 diverse sites across Ohio to change perceptions of dis/ability, including OCALICON, the nation's premier Autism and disabilities conference; Riffe Gallery; and Wild Goose Creative. Last year, 20% of the exhibit sold to new patrons.

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Data reflects three most recently completed fiscal years.

Current Fiscal Year 07/01/2015 - 06/30/2016
Projected Revenue $208,098
Projected Expense $207,731
Endowment Fund No
Current Capital Campaign? No
Anticipate a capital campaign in next 5 years? No

Revenues by Source

  2015   2014   2013  
Total Direct Support $14,410  $39,682  $47,004 
Direct Support Foundations
Direct Support Corporations
Direct Support Individuals
Direct Support Unspecified $14,410  $39,682  $47,004 
Government $109,946  $102,630  $116,090 
Indirect Public Support
Earned Revenue $72,959  $59,801  $51,667 
Interest and Dividends $88  $67  $78 
Membership Dues
Special Events
Other $1,000  $198 
TOTAL REVENUE $197,403  $203,180  $215,037 

Expense by Type

  2015   2014   2013  
Programs $166,506  $184,683  $197,849 
Administration $27,854  $27,107  $18,958 
Payment to Affiliates
TOTAL EXPENSES $194,360  $211,790  $216,807 

Assets and Liabilities

  2015   2014   2013  
Total Assets $71,561  $52,813  $76,728 
Current Assets $71,561  $52,813  $75,234 
Total Liabilities $17,942  $2,237  $17,542 
Current Liabilities $17,942  $2,237  $17,495 
NET ASSETS $53,619  $50,576  $59,186 


TCF Staff:
Ms. Erin J. Hoppe

VSAO’s leadership maintains on-going communication about organizational health, and is implementing a three-year development plan. Earned income has grown significantly due to service contracts with Ohio Arts Council and Kennedy Center. Our major focus is to grow contributed income; a new Friends of VSAO program is yielding results. VSAO maintains a savings account and a three-month cash reserve, raising nearly 90% of the annual budget by second quarter annually. 

Documents Form 990 2015 Form 990 2014 Form 990 2013

All portrait information is provided voluntarily by nonprofit organizations. An organization may decline to participate. At a minimum, information is updated annually--sometimes more frequently. Documents indicated as available by an organization are verified by Foundation staff. The financial section is completed by Foundation staff based on available documents for a three-year period.