It’s another summer of arts programs for youth, children, adults and families at the Idyllwild Arts campus. Once again, participants will have choices of familiar programs, favorite instructors and new opportunities. The Summer Program lasts for eight weeks, from June 15, when the popular Hot Clay and Metals Week opens, through Aug. 9, when many youth classes offer final performances throughout the day.
Organizers offer adults an opportunity to learn or improve on a variety of artistic skills. A digital photography class is new this year. And new opportunities for ceramists, painters, drawers, printmakers, sculptors, writers and poets will fill the summer.
Teens and youths will have an equal number of challenging classes, including theater, dance, film and music.
From year to year, the adult programs offer more change than the youth classes, according to Steve Fraider, executive director and vice president of the Summer Program. Attendance in the adult program surged about five years ago, said Heather Companiott, director of the Adult Arts Center. About 400 adults attend the various programs each year. The youth enrollees number another 400 in the 9 to 12 years group, but nearly 1,000 for the teen classes.
“But there is a 50-percent turn over [in the adult students] every year, so there’s something new each year,” Fraider said. “Adults like to do different things. A large majority come to do art for enjoyment and the satisfaction of making or working on things. Some have been coming for 15 to 20 years.”
Those who do repeat tend to be very loyal to the program. Fraider first came to Idyllwild for a summer class in the mid-1960s. Renowned soloist and chamber music cellist John Walz attended a summer program in 1964 and remains connected to the school. Currently, he is on the faculty of the Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program.
In August, when the High School Chamberfest plays its final concert at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, Walz will play Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidre,” a fantasy/concerto for cello and orchestra on the well-known traditional Yom Kippur tune.
During 1978, Companiott attended an Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. Following college and graduate school, she eventually migrated back to campus to run the Native Arts portion of the Summer Program.
What impresses her and demonstrates the magnetism and success of the program is how often she has heard, “It has changed my life, I’m on a different trajectory. I’m always amazed and it’s really moving.“
One of those individuals is Natalie Diaz who attended the Summer Program eight years ago, Companiott said. This year, Diaz, who has won fellowships and prizes for her poetry, returns as one of the instructors during Poetry Week.
The faculty’s power is one of the reasons for the Summer Program’s continuing popularity and success. “About 98 percent of the teachers return each year, so there’s continuity,” Fraider said. “They like teaching at Idyllwild Arts because we have great students. But it’s not just [the students’] talent, it’s their passion. And we empower the faculty.”
Instructors have to be prepared for students who range from beginners to professionals in their field. The search and vetting process is hugely successful. Nearly 98 percent of the faculty return each year, according to Fraider.
“We try to find somebody well known and respected, and also a great teacher who is passionate about what they do,” Companiott said. “Every summer there’s something extraordinary.”
The creation of a new class or program is not the sole responsibility of Fraider or Companiott, he said. “When we have an idea, it could be vague. But we solicit possible faculty to make a proposal.” There’s a back-and-forth process and collaboration before students cross the classroom threshold. Then it’s up to them.
Each year, the adult program offers about 50 workshops. About 35 classes will be new this year. For example, digital photography is being offered for the first time, Companiott said. It will be a cutting-edge, mixed-media photography class — something unique. Glass blowing is another new class and already half full.
Anyone with a passion for art — whether it is performing or creating — who seeks a unique perspective, the Idyllwild Arts campus in the San Jacinto Mountains offers a special learning and exploring opportunity. A description of the Summer Program classes — adult arts, children’s center, junior artists, youth arts and family camp — can be found at www.idyllwildarts.org/page.cfm?p=498.