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Orange County arts leaders and supporters marked the start of a project to remake the central plaza at Segerstrom Center for the Arts with a symbolic groundbreaking Wednesday.The event began under clouds, but the sun broke through as Segerstrom board President...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts transformation project breaks ground in Costa Mesa

Orange County arts leaders and supporters marked the start of a project to remake the central plaza at Segerstrom Center for the Arts with a symbolic groundbreaking Wednesday.The event began under clouds, but the sun broke through as Segerstrom board President...

Segerstrom Center for the Arts transformation project breaks ground in Costa Mesa

Orange County arts leaders and supporters marked the start of a project to remake the central plaza at Segerstrom Center for the Arts with a symbolic groundbreaking Wednesday.

The event began under clouds, but the sun broke through as Segerstrom board President John Ginger addressed the audience, which included donors, past and present Segerstrom board members, and arts organization leaders such as Segerstrom President Terrence W. Dwyer, Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte and Orange County Museum of Art Director Todd DeShields Smith.

The project and new programs “will transform the center into what we are confident will be the arts center of the future,” Ginger told the audience.

The redesigned central plaza is one part of the initiative the Segerstrom Center announced in 2015 to broaden its appeal and attract audiences who don’t typically visit, including from younger and more ethnically and economically diverse groups. The plaza is to include an outdoor stage for free events, seating areas, green space and an outdoor cafe.

Also, the adjoining Judy Morr Theater will get a new entrance and programs under a new Center for Dance and Innovation that will be housed there. A new Center Without Boundaries is aimed at expanding the Segerstrom Center’s community outreach.

Construction on the plaza and theater entrance, delayed by design changes that added more plaza seating, is expected to wrap up by October or November.

Orange County philanthropists Julianne and George Argyros have given the largest donation to the project, and the plaza will be named for them. On the stage Wednesday, the Argyroses, project architect Michael Maltzan and Segerstrom leaders donned gold construction helmets and lifted dirt, dumping it on the ground for a symbolic kickoff. The project will be a place young people will enjoy, Julianne Argyros said afterward. Attracting visitors from ethnic groups who might not traditionally visit the Segerstrom Center is a major goal of the initiative, she added.

“It’s places like this that can actually do more to mend fences, racially, than any other thing you can think of, because it’s fun, it’s happy, it’s safe,” she said.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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