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SPARC will direct youth from across the globe in a LIVE ART performance with Jason Mraz and Grace VanderWaal at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

liveartmainlogoMembers of SPARC’s creative leadership team will travel to Austria to direct the Special Olympics International Global Messengers and Austria’s Schladming youth choir in a LIVE ART production during Jason Mraz’s performance of his hit single “I Won’t Give Up” at the Opening Ceremony on March 18, 2017. America’s Got Talent winner, Grace VanderWaal, will perform alongside Mraz and the LIVE ART participants.

The Special Olympics World Games are held every two years and demonstrate sports excellence, which promotes equality, respect, and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Nearly 2,700 athletes and coaches from 107 nations will attend the Opening Ceremony, which will be held at the Planai Stadium in Schladming, Austria and will be broadcast LIVE locally in Richmond, VA on WRIC 8 ABC News starting at 2:00 p.m. EST.

SPARC’s Special Olympics World Winter Games LIVE ART team will include Erin Thomas-Foley (Director), Brendan Kennedy (Assistant Director), Daniel Clarke (Music Director), and Mraz, who has served as an artistic advisor and funder for SPARC’s LIVE ART program since its inception in 2012. They have three days to train this group of youth, with and without disabilities who are speaking many different languages, to create the performance.

SPARC’s Special Olympics World Winter Games LIVE ART team will include Erin Thomas-Foley (Director), Brendan Kennedy (Assistant Director), Daniel Clarke (Music Director), and Mraz, who has served as an artistic advisor and funder for SPARC’s LIVE ART program since its inception in 2012. They have three days to train this group of youth, with and without disabilities who are speaking many different languages, to create the performance.

“We are truly humbled and honored to be a part of the Opening Ceremony for the Special Olympics,” said Erin Thomas-Foley, SPARC’s Senior Director of Education and Creator/Director of LIVE ART. “We hope the performance will be a powerful merging of Special Olympics’ amazing mission of empowering people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities and LIVE ART’s message of inclusion and acceptance through the performing arts.”

One of SPARC’s LIVE ART Richmond partners, Miracles in Motion, a dance company for children with special needs, will also perform at the Games.


 Day 1

Update from SPARC’s LIVE ART Team Austria! After a couple of flights, Erin Thomas-Foley, Ryan Ripperton, Brendan Kennedy, and Daniel Clarke are in Salzburg! From there they will go on to Schladming where the Special Olympics Winter World Games Opening Ceremony will be held!

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Day 2

Rehearsing with Austria’s NMS1 Middle School and Brendan working with Opening Ceremonies director, Verena Kiegerl.

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Day 3

Thursday we welcomed the Special Olympics’ International Global Messengers to our LIVE ART ensemble. Erin Thomas-Foley embraces her colleague and new best friend Karin Noiges, choir teacher at NMS1 in Schladming. Karin has been a vital part of preparing all the students for success in front of a global audience!

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