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An August Start for Arts Program

Education: Pacific Symphony to launch sessions for middle school students.


The Pacific Symphony will launch a multidisciplinary arts education program in August for Orange County middle school students, it was announced Tuesday.

Dubbed arts-X-press, the program will team children from diverse backgrounds and offer intense arts study, introductions to cultural activities and performances by professionals.

The program was developed by the symphony's education department and its music director, Carl St.Clair, and his wife, Susan, in memory of the couple's son, Cole Carsan St.Clair.

"We wanted a program that had staying power and the potential to change young people's lives during the pivotal time when they're making directional decisions ," Carl St.Clair said at the Center Club in Costa Mesa during a luncheon for donors to the Cole Carsan St.Clair Memorial Fund.

The fund, which contains nearly $500,000 in donations from Orange County arts leaders--including Mark Chapin Johnson and his wife, Barbara Johnson, and Mary and Peter Muth--was formed after 18-month-old Cole drowned in 1999.

The program, to be held in two weeklong pilot sessions, will be aimed at students from the Capistrano, Garden Grove, Irvine, Placentia-Yorba Linda and Santa Ana school districts.

The program fee is $250, with scholarships available for up to 50% of the cost. Participants will stay in dormitories at UC Irvine and study on campus. Field trips are also scheduled, including a performance of "The Lion King," a Pacific Symphony concert and a tour of artists' studios at the Sawdust Festival.

"Our son's life was a miracle," St.Clair said. "And we hope this program touches the lives of young people the way his life inspired ours."

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