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Southern California Celebrates Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Organization Honors the Vision, Leadership and Enduring Generosity of the Segerstrom Family By Gregg Schwenk
At a festive public ceremony held on its campus in the heart of Southern California, the Board of Directors of the Orange County Performing Arts Center today announced that the organization has changed its name to Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The new name honors the extraordinary contributions of the Segerstrom family, whose unwavering commitment has been at the core of the Center's success. A crowd of 1,500 gathered for the event, which kicked off with a performance by Grammy winner Chris Botti and ended with dazzling fanfare and fireworks. Distinguished guests included Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, local civic officials and Bolshoi Ballet stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. 

Since it opened in 1986, the Center has taken its place as one of America's leading multidisciplinary arts complexes, known for its ambitious and eclectic artistic and educational mission, world-class presentations and dedication to serving the entire Southern California community. Successive gifts of land and generous contributions by the Segerstrom family since 1974 have enabled the Center to expand its campus beyond its original footprint, while providing a solid foundation for presenting and producing the best in the performing arts and providing far-reaching education programs.

"Countless people have worked to build this institution into the internationally acclaimed arts center and cultural town square that it is today," stated Thomas V. McKernan, Chairman of the Board of Directors.  "But time and time again, the Segerstrom family has inspired us all with their leadership and generosity.  We are honored to have that commitment reflected in the name of this institution." 

"On behalf of the entire Segerstrom family, I want to thank the Board of the Center for conferring on us the most meaningful recognition we could have," stated Henry Segerstrom, a Managing Partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons and Founding Chairman of the Orange County Performing Arts Center. "It has been our family's privilege and honor to give back to the community and to ensure that the future of the Center will be a bright one. The naming of Segerstrom Center for the Arts is greatly appreciated and is an acknowledgement that touches each of us very deeply."

Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, also a Managing Partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons and Vice Chair of Support Groups for the Center, stated, "My parents, Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom, taught us that the arts are a gift that has to be shared and passed on. While I thank the Center for this incomparable honor, I also want to bear witness to the fact that my family is just a part of this great institution. I salute everyone who has lent support to the Center and made it their cultural home-and especially those who have passed on the Center's gift to their children."

"I've been all around the world and I've never seen anything like this," said Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, referring to Segerstrom Center for the Arts' campus. "This place is so special."

Major Commission Adds to the Anniversary Celebration

To help celebrate and communicate to the world its cultural and artistic mission, Segerstrom Center for the Arts also announced an international artistic initiative. The Center will create a major new dance event that will showcase two of the most renowned stars of the Bolshoi Ballet, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. These extraordinary dancers will be presented in Segerstrom Hall in October 2012. 

"As we look to a future of unlimited possibilities, it seems especially appropriate that we mark this new era, and new name, with a burst of creative energy, adding an important new work of choreography to the world's stage," stated Terrence W. Dwyer, President of the Center. "The new name of this treasured cultural institution, and the extraordinary artistry that will first come to life here, will stand as a testament to the visionary role and philanthropic generosity of the Segerstrom family."

To underscore its commitment to the entire community, ensuring that extraordinary experiences such as the Osipova-Vasiliev commission can be enjoyed by everyone, the Center made a third celebratory announcement in anticipation of the 25th anniversary. Over the course of the season, a new initiative will make more than 10,000 tickets available for the special price of $10 each, with a predetermined number of these "Access for All" tickets set aside for every performance.

About Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is an acclaimed arts institution and a multidisciplinary cultural campus.  As both an institution and a destination, it is dedicated to supporting artistic excellence, offering the public unsurpassed experiences in all of its venues and engaging the entire community through innovative and exciting programs.

In this renaming, Segerstrom Center for the Arts has been redefined not only as the new name of the organization but also as the name of the its expanded campus?the entire 14-acre site formerly known as the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The campus serves as the home of the Center's performances and education programs, and for the annual performance seasons of resident organizations: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Pacific Chorale.

As an institution, Segerstrom Center for the Arts traces its origins to the late 1960s, when a dedicated group of community leaders decided Orange County should have its own world-class performing arts venue. Their vision became reality in September 1986 with the opening of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, with Henry Segerstrom serving as the first Chairman of the Board and later elected as Founding Chairman. The dedication and generosity that allowed the Center to be uniquely built entirely through private funding also enabled it to achieve artistic success, establishing it as an invaluable cultural resource for the entire community.

The Center quickly earned a reputation as one of the leading presenters of dance in America. Its annual music series brought the world's greatest classical, jazz and cabaret artists to Orange County. Its main stage became a favorite stop for national tours of award-winning Broadway musicals. And its innovative arts education programs have been lauded by teachers and school districts throughout California and beyond.

The rapid growth of the region's artistic community and audiences, encouraged directly by the Center's achievements, led supporters to launch a campaign to expand its facilities. Two new performance venues, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Samueli Theater, were inaugurated in September 2006, confirming the Center's status as Orange County's largest non-profit arts organization.

The Center presents a broad range of programs each season for audiences of all ages, who come from Orange County and beyond. Presentations include ballet and dance by international companies, top Broadway shows, contemporary musical artists, jazz and cabaret in intimate settings, classical music by renowned chamber orchestras and ensembles, family-friendly programs and free public events, from outdoor movie screenings to dancing on the plaza.

Education programs at the Center, designed to inspire young people through the arts, reach hundreds of thousands of students of all ages with vital arts-in-education programs, enhancing their studies and enriching their lives.

The 14-acre, multidisciplinary campus is home to the producing-presenting institution and to two more major arts organizations. The producing-presenting institution owns and operates the portion of the arts complex comprising the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall and intimate 250-seat Founders Hall (opened 1986), and the 2,000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (opened 2006). The latter facility also incorporates the 500-seat Samueli Theater, the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Education Center's studio performance space, and Boeing Education Lab.

Another portion of the campus is the home of the Tony(r) Award-winning South Coast Repertory. A gift of land from the Segerstrom Family enabled SCR to open its theater in Costa Mesa in 1978 and set the stage for the subsequent creation of the arts complex. In 2002, SCR opened an expanded facility on the campus, the Folino Theatre Center, encompassing the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the Nicholas Studio.

A third portion of the campus is designated as the future home of the Orange County Museum of Art, which is scheduled to open its new facility in 2016.

A spacious arts plaza anchors Segerstrom Center for Arts and is home to numerous free performances throughout the year as part of Segerstrom Center for the Arts' ongoing Free for All series.

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Gregg Schwenk is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur. He reports on a number of various subjects including: film, art, technology and politics. Mr. Schwenk is an adjunct professor at CSUF's Center for Entertainment and Tourism located in Orange County, California. He is also a consultant and advisor to several entertainment and technology firms. In 2005, Mr. Schwenk was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce, to the District Export Council. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and completed the Advanced Management Program at USC.
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