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Orange County

S. County to Get Arts Conservatory

Education: Directors will leave O.C. high school to establish an after-school program.


Two founders of the successful Orange County High School of the Arts are leaving to open an intensive after-school arts program in San Juan Capistrano.

The California Conservatory of the Arts is set to open in September, with auditions for the competitive program for students in grades 7 through 12 beginning July 15.

"This is going to be a real comprehensive program designed for kids who want careers in the arts," said David Green, the school's executive and artistic director. "It's intended to give them the competitive edge they'll need to get into the colleges and programs of their choice."

Green and partner Nancy Melbourne were two of three founding directors of the arts high school 15 years ago. The charter school, which is affiliated with Santa Ana's public schools, has since grown to 1,045 students.

Green said he and Melbourne wanted to leave administration and get back to the classroom.

"The core values that we share work better in a smaller environment," he said.

The conservatory, in the Sycamore Commons office complex, will offer training in dance, musical theater and visual arts.

Tuition for the 10-month program is $1,500. Green said about 125 students will be chosen for this fall's classes.

He said the conservatory will tap students in the growing South County region.

"This is another avenue for a different market," he said. "We hope to have a collaborative relationship with [OCHSA] instead of a competitive one."

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