This spring, the number of family oriented arts activities in Northern Virginia are growing - both in the performances available and learning opportunities for the public.

At least one business in Virginia has fostered family attendance at local art events by offering free tickets to its customers.

Carol Supplee is staff liaison for Family Savings and Loan Association, with responsibility for developing community projects in conjunction with the Northern Virginia Arts Alliance (NVAA). She says several NVAA arts groups have donated free tickets for performances, and Family Savings has purchased additional ones for free distribution at its three offices.

Three remaining performances for which a limited number of tickets are still available include the Bob Brown Marionettes in "Bunny Business," jointly sponsored by the Children's Theatre of Arlington and Vagabond Puppet People April 8; the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra's young soloists concert April 22, and the Northern Virginia Youth Symphony's two concerts April 16 and April 23.

Complimentary tickets are available while the supply lasts for customers of Family Savings & Loan in Springfield. Fairfax and Annandale (limit of four per family).

All available free tickets to the Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia's production of "The Barber of Seville" this week and the Arlington Dance Theatre's three concerts in April went quickly, Supplee said, "but the people who got them were really thrilled."

Free tickets also were distributed by Family Savings in March for a concert by the Arlington Metropolitan Chorus and an April Fool's Magic Show at the McLean Community Center.

The events sponsored by members of the Northern Virgina Arts Alliance represent the broad spectrum of community performing arts available for area families: music, opera, theatre, dance, puppetry and film.

Family Savings & Loan began its support of the Arts Alliance last year when it funded publication of the group's quarterly calendar of events. Two more issues of the calendar have received additional support Family Savings.

"As we develop these cooperative community efforts, we may find other ways to mutually benefit the arts public," Supplee said. "We're trying to show that business and the arts can work together. If Family Savings & Loan can help by generating interest in local arts activities, we would be achieving one of our goals."

Classes for parents and children in mutual arts awareness programs are being offered in Northern Virginia by at least three groups: the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE), the Arlington Youth Ballet and the Arlington Recreation Division.

Art teacher Bernadette Monroe of Reston has developed and will teach a new course concept, Family Art Evening, Friday, April 21. This one-session class is being billed by GRACE as "a family experience of seeing and making."

She said the core of her plans for participating families is to involve them in viewing and creating individual art.

"It will be a shared, family-type experience," she said. "Adults don't always understand some of the beautiful things the kids are doing. We'll help parents break down the walls adults have and involve them in creating with the kids."

The session from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. costs $10 per family for GRACE members and $15 for nonmembers (maximum of four children; $1 per additional child). The minimum age for children is five years. Call 471-9242 for more information.

The Arlington Youth Ballet's mother-daughter dance class may change its title to parent-child ballet, in an effort to recruit and train sorely needed male dancers, AYB President Carmen Egge says.

"We started the mother and daughter class in 1977 on an experimental basis, "Egge said, "to see how much enrollment we got. We were surprised, it turned out to be popular.

"It's lots of fun, because if the children are too young to start ballet on their own or haven't taken it before and are nervous, they like being with their mothers. Basically we teach bar exercises and ballet positions. It develops coordination for the child and is good exercise for the mother."

Egge said AYB "would love to have a men and boys class, too. We're always so short on male dancers."

For registration information on the Friday afternoon mother-daughter dance class and other classes starting this week, call AYB at 527-0813.