Orange Coast Magazine

25 Years in the Spotlight

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts turns silver this year. It's amazing what can grow in a bean field.

By Laura Bleiberg, Anastacia Grenda, Christopher Smith, and Anne Valdespino

Oranges, surf music, Mickey Mouse. Those were Orange County’s contributions to Southern California culture. But things changed in 1986 with the opening of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, celebrating its silver anniversary this year.

It all began in 1974 with a humble candle-lit fundraiser in a vacant S.S. Kresge dime store that netted $5,000. That benefit—today called the Candlelight Concert and held on Dec. 3 this year—now raises $1 million annually for artistic and education programs, and symbolizes the county’s sustained commitment to excellence in the arts. The center has blossomed into a collection of world-class venues, including the original $73 million Segerstrom Hall (1986), as well as the $200 million Henry and Renée Segerstrom Concert Hall (2006).

In the print version of this feature, you’ll meet those who made it happen and tour a campus recently rechristened for its primary benefactors, the Segerstrom family. Along with memorable moments from the first 25 years, we wanted to celebrate the pioneers who lit those first candles, and the men and women who keep the flame burning.


A map to the theaters, dinner, and best parking - Page 101

Bette Midler’s six-word review of the center - Page 102

The woman behind the center’s epic dance series - Page 103

Free concerts and movie screenings on the Plaza - Page 104

Who’ll continue the Segerstrom legacy? - Page 105

Want to see the honor roll of million-dollar contributors listed in the center’s opening-night program? Click here.


To read the full story, order a print or digital copy of the December issue here.

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Orange Coast magazine.

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