During the Live Art concert, students create artwork while onstate.

The PBS Online Film Festival showcases short films from a variety of filmmakers. These shorts often give voice to issues and programs that may be overlooked by major Hollywood studios. That’s the case with the film Live Art which won the festival’s top prize this year.

It's about an innovative 20-week inclusive performing arts educational program in Richmond, Virginia for children with and without developmental disabilities and hearing impairments, which culminates in a one of a kind concert experience.

Produced by the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community,Live Art is one part performance art with the kids squeezing paints on a large canvas to create artwork on stage. It’s another part musical theater with musicians strumming and singing while the kids dance or sing or even play instruments too. The real magic occurs during rehearsals where the kids with disabilities and the kids without them learn to interact with each other.

Both sets of kids discuss having reservations about the other. One student was worried about how to make conversation with a student with a disability. Another student with a special need expressed being nervous about being liked. But their concerns quickly evaporated once they got into the program because of the teachers and musicians involved.

The dedication and collaboration of the special ed teachers, artists, musicians, choreographers and sign language instructors is the foundation of the project. The Live Art program is further proof that arts education is a vital component of schooling.

The filmmakers - Martin Montgomery and William Gaff - plan to make a full length documentary about the Live Art program in the future.