Free instruction for youths in dance, drama, music, visual arts, stagecraft and costuming are available through the D.C. Department of Recreation's new Neighborhood Arts Academy program, designed to develop talents and broaden interests in the performing and visual arts.

The program also offers youths the opportunity to regularly visit professional cultural performances and attend workshops and related activities and to perform for the community, academy officials say. At the end of its first year, the academy plans to organize a children's theater and youth orchestra.

The program was made possible through a grant from the National Park Service in cooperation with the D.C. Department of Recreation.

People from 5 to 21 years old can participate throughout the year in the 16 centers, which are at the following places: Ward 1, Banneker and Powell-Lincoln recreation centers; Ward 2, Randall School and Terrell Recreation Center; Ward 3, Chevy Chase Community and Palisades Recreation centers; Ward 4, Takoma Elementary and Rabaut recreation centers; Ward 5, Langdon Park and Taft recreation centers; Ward 6, Hine and Rosedale recreation centers; Ward 7, Kenilworth-Parkside Community and Benning-Stoddert Recreation centers; and Ward 8, Ballou Recreation and Washington Highland Community centers.

For more information, call 673-7660.