ART FOR ART'S SAKE

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For eight weeks, beginning the last day of June, 1,400 children from the greater metropolitan area of New York City who feel a kinship for the arts will leave their neighborhoods each morning for the sylvan campus of the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Huntington, Long Island. Make no mistake. These aren't privileged children, and this day camp isn't "laboring under the pretense of being a preprofessional training school in the arts," says Dale Lewis, executive director of Usdan. "Society just doesn't make room to accommodate 1,400 new stars every year."

Usdan does, however, want to create a public that appreciates the arts. Midday performances by professionals like Billy Taylor's jazz trio will inspire the 8-to-18-year-olds early in the season. And by learning an art, they will achieve an even greater respect for it. Campers will choose two courses from 34 programs in music, dance, art, theater, writing and chess. By midseason, many of them will demonstrate their skills for their peers in the same time slots the pros will have occupied.

Two of the most unusual classes (open to kids 10 or older) are taught in the Television and Video Arts Center. This summer, 60 television-and-video-arts students will file through its purple-scaffolded entrance, as will 30 computer-graphics students. Their parents pay $1,800 in tuition (unless they receive financial aid). Steven Bochco Productions could make do with the studios, editing suites and equipment. But in lieu of Bochco will be instructor David Schaeffler teaching a little girl, who is wearing a headset and standing on a milk crate, how to manipulate a large, 3-chip Sony studio camera. In the computer-graphics room, instructor Deena Segot will be critiquing an advanced camper's animation created in Macromedia Director. Later the same day, Segot will have beginner students draw butterflies in Fractal Design Painter. Like butterflies, children need freedom. So each day, campers can socialize outdoors until it's time to go home.

Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, 516-643-7900. Computer-graphics program closed out for 1997.