New Arts Program to Debut in Fall

Orientation Event to Be in Style of Outdoor, Urban Weeks


The First-year Arts Program (FAP) has joined the tongue twister of first-year orientation programs which greet over a quarter of the entering class every year. This fall, 40 members of the class of 1999 will have the opportunity to participate in a pilot arts program which seeks to introduce incoming students to the arts resources available at Harvard.

The program complements three existing orientation programs: the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Alliance, the First-year Outdoor Program (FOP) and the First-year Urban Program (FUP).

Like the other programs, FAP's main goal is to introduce first-years to one another in a more intimate setting before the deluge of Freshman Week and the pressures of the academic year. Organizers say, this program's specific focus is to explore the arts at Harvard and the surrounding community by having students participate in a variety of activities.

"There is a whole lot more to Harvard than classes. Arts are central to the Harvard experience. Most undergrads do dance, theater, singing or studio arts. We want to strengthen that experience at the beginning so that it will be much better in the long run," said Alan P. Symonds '69, the founder and creator of FAP and Co-Technical Director for College Theater Programs in the Houses and the Freshman Yard.


"The rationale in selecting the programs is that students are not as likely to know about these resources, and they are also things that people haven't done before," said Matthew R. Saunders '97, a member of the FAP steering committee.

Current plans for the FAP week include an improvisational acting workshop, a tour of museums, a ceramics workshop, an electronic music workshop and a workshop with curators to develop an exhibition of prints. FAP will culminate in a "Yard Pageant" during Freshman Week with a medieval theme, complete with a procession of wagons and performances.

"It will be cheesy fun," said Symonds.

FAP is the brainchild of Symonds, a first-yearadvisor, who came up with idea last fall as apossible project to pursue in a few years.However, the Freshman Dean's Office was receptiveenough to the proposal to bring it into realityfor the class of 1999. "The program is very opento suggestion and very flexible," said Maria E.Padilla '96, a FAP steering committee member. "Wereally want to make sure it works by being open toideas. That is important in a program that isbeing run for the first time."

The program unites efforts from different artsspheres at Harvard. "It will pull together a lotof arts information at one place, at one time,"said Myra A. Mayman, director of the Office forthe Arts at Harvard and Radcliffe. Ideas have beensolicited from the arts community atHarvard--including students, performance groups,the Harvard University Art Museums (HUAM) and theVisual and Environmental Studies (VES) faculty.

"Symonds has gone to different people in thearts across the board and across departmentallines. It's a whole variety of arts," said Mayman.

Participants will not be selected on anevaluation of artistic merit. Portfolios andresumes are not required with the application.Instead, the FAP application included in theregistration packet mailed yesterday to the classof 1999 requests a simple description of oneselfas an artist, designer of performer.

"The selection process will not be a talentsearch," said Symonds.

A random lottery may be used to keep theselection process more democratic. "We're nottrying to get the 30 best artists in the freshmanclass. We just want 30 people who are reallyinterested in arts, even if they've never doneanything before," said Saunders.

FAP's cost to participants, $360, is moreexpensive than the other firstyear programs,though need-based aid is built into FAP's budget.FAP is self-supporting; estimated programoperating costs are expected to be around $13,000.

Leaders of the other orientation programswelcome FAP as a means of meeting the high demandfor first-year programs. In 1994, FOP had over 300participants while FUP had 115 participants. TheRadcliffe Science Alliance has roughly 35participants every year. However, each yearhundreds more students apply than there areavailable spots. "FUP always has to turn away morethan 50% of its applicants," said Alexandra M.Molnar '96, a FUP steering committee member.