Segerstrom Center for the Arts' annual Summer at the Center program benefiting high-risk and underserved youths returns for its 21st year today, July 16 – July 28.
Summer at the Center (SATC) has been praised for its effectiveness in changing and improving the lives of the young people who have participated in this award-winning arts program. Participants come from many backgrounds, most often from circumstances that include substance abuse, mental or physical abuse, abandonment, social problems, gang affiliation or learning disabilities. SATC is a rigorous two-week experience that helps high school-aged students to build critically important life skills. Throughout the years, it has demonstrated that the arts can play a strong and positive role in developing personalities, attitudes and coping abilities.
Summer at the Center was designed to help steer high-risk kids onto better paths. Statistics indicate that when arts programming vanishes from schools, the dropout rate increases. SATC records show the graduation rate for participants of the program exceed those of their peers. In addition, the program utilizes specially created music and theater workshops that provide young people with the tools to overcome adversity in their lives, build self-esteem, develop social skills and become peer role models for other youth. This year, 40 students were selected from an applicant pool of more than 100 to participate in the program, which was developed by the Center's Education and Community Programs Department and has become a U.S. Department of Education model program.
Summer at the Center will culminate with the students performing a traditional FREE Broadway revue-style show in Samueli Theater on Saturday, July 28 at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the free one-hour performances. All shows will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations are needed. The performances are part of Segerstrom Center's Free for All Series which allows guests to experience the Center in new ways – and all at no cost.
Summer at the Center is a precedent-setting collaboration with the Orange County Department of Education. It was the first performing arts program to be offered to ACCESS (Alternative, Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services) students in Orange County. Students completing the program receive five fine arts credits with ACCESS. Summer at the Center was the first Center education program specifically created for high-risk youths. The U.S. Department of Education has recognized Summer at the Center as a model program in its national registry.
Daily sessions include musical theater singing, dancing and acting lessons. Guest speakers such as musicians, actors, directors and program alumni help reinforce what the students are learning.
Bill Brawley, who has been selected to direct Summer at the Center since its first year in 1991, will again direct the Center's program. Brawley has been the artistic director for The Young Americans® for 35 years and works alongside his wife Robyn, who will also be teaching at Summer at the Center.
Participants are selected through an interview process, which was developed as an opportunity in itself for students to begin to step outside their comfort zones. Rather than holding auditions, the interviews help program coordinators see how students work within a team of people from different backgrounds and assess their ability to adapt and take the first steps in positive change. This also ensures that the students are selected on the strength of their commitment to personal goals rather than artistic ability.
In October, participants will return to Segerstrom Center for a Summer at the Center reunion. The students will attend a performance of the international percussion sensation STOMP in Segerstrom Hall. For many of the students, it will be their first experience seeing a Broadway show.
Summer at the Center is made possible in part by the generous support of David and Diane Steffy, PIMCO Foundation, Comerica Bank, Sally and Randy Crockett, Edwards Lifesciences Fund of the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, Golden State Foods Foundation, O.L. Halsell Foundation, Dr. David and Mrs. Sandra Lee, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Lester, The Lund Fund of the California Community Foundation, Tom and Naomi Moon, Marcia Kay Radelet, Jeanne Tappan and Janet Dryden and Carol and Kent Wilken.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts is unique as both an acclaimed arts institution and as a multi-disciplinary cultural campus. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence on all of its stages, offering unsurpassed experiences, and engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring programs.