(Page 2 of 5)

From bean fields to ballet: Segerstrom Center celebrates 25 years

The arts complex in Costa Mesa helped transform the county from a 'cultural desert' between L.A. and San Diego to a place where world-class performers come.

September 28, 2011|By Imran Vittachi

Toward that end, the center will launch the "Access for All" initiative this season, reserving 10,000 tickets priced at $10 apiece. The discounted tickets should give buyers access to shows across the center's core disciplines: classical dance and music, Broadway musicals and jazz.

"They're being made available for different performances of all the genres we present all year to make sure that everybody in the community can participate in what the community has created here," center President Terrence W. Dwyer said.


O.C. rising

When the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall opened in September 1986, the vision of Richard Lippold's "Fire Bird" sculpture — spreading its wings within the frame of a red-granite grand portal arch — heralded a new era for Orange County.


The booming and sprawling county had finally "arrived" and "come of age," as Los Angeles Times reports from the period put it.

"Culture was finally catching up with commerce," a Times editorial proclaimed in July 1983, when ground was broken for OCPAC's construction.

And on the day that the $73-million concert hall finally opened, Sam Hall Kaplan, a Times design critic, pointedly observed that the new arts venue promised to give the nearby South Coast Plaza shopping center "a new and exciting urbanity; a place to be entertained and enriched, to see and be seen, an opportunity to beat back the specter of a stultifying suburbia that has long hovered over the county's cultural maturation."

It may have taken three years to build the center, but the project to bring such a venue to Orange County began in the late 1960s. Various groups — including the Newport Harbor Foundation, created in 1969 — had formed with the mission of bringing a performing arts venue to Orange County.

Some of the groups eventually united under an umbrella organization called the Orange County Arts Alliance, which was the precursor of Arts Orange County.

"[The movement] was fragmented," recalled Ron Yeo, a Corona del Mar architect who helped lead the alliance in the 1970s. "What we were trying to do was bring them all together to raise the county's cultural level."

A point of pride for area art lovers, and members of the county elite involved in the capital campaign, is that funds for building OCPAC were raised entirely through private donations from the Segerstrom family and many other philanthropists.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles