Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA: Where Dreams Take the Stage

Historical Background

Nestled in Costa Mesa, California, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage. Originally known as the Orange County Performing Arts Center, it opened its doors on September 29, 1986, marking a new era for the arts in the region.

Designed by Charles Lawrence, the Judy Morr Theater and the Center’s Segerstrom Hall were completed that same year, with expansions in 2006 and 2017. The vision behind the Center was to create a space that would nurture creativity and provide a platform for local and international talents.

Over the years, it has grown into a cultural landmark, hosting various performances and exhibitions. The renaming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 2011 further solidified its identity as a hub for artistic excellence.

The evolution of the Center is a reflection of the community’s passion for the arts. Every step has been a collaborative effort involving architects, artists, and patrons from its inception to its expansions. The result is a space that resonates with the spirit of Orange County and continues to inspire generations.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts: Architectural Marvel

The architecture of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a blend of aesthetics and functionality. Renowned architect César Pelli played a pivotal role in shaping the Center’s design, earning numerous awards and professional honors, including the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1995.

Venues and Facilities

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is not just about grandeur; it’s about accessibility and versatility. The venues are designed to accommodate various performances, from intimate jazz concerts to grand operas.

  • Segerstrom Hall: A 2,994-seat opera house-style theater hosting Broadway musicals, ballet, and more.
  • Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall: A 1,704-seat theater-in-the-round featuring the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ with 4,322 pipes and 75 stops.
  • Samueli Theater: A 375-seat multi-purpose facility suitable for jazz, cabaret, theater, and special events.
  • Judy Morr Theater: A 250-seat hall primarily serving as a ballet-company rehearsal space.

The Julianne and George Argyros Plaza adds charm to the Center’s 46,000-square-foot area, restaurants, a permanent stage, public seating, and picnic areas. The recent addition of the Orange County Museum of Art to the campus further enriches the cultural experience.

Resident Companies and Performances

The Center’s resident companies, the Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, and Pacific Chorale, have significantly contributed to the artistic landscape. Their performances have entertained audiences and fostered a deeper appreciation for music and the arts.

Broadway musicals, ballet, jazz, comedy, family shows, and free community events are part of the Center’s diverse lineup. The commitment to showcasing storied and innovative dance and intimate concerts has made it a favorite destination for art enthusiasts.

The Center’s role in promoting new plays and encouraging artistic experimentation has earned it a reputation as one of America’s foremost producers of new works. The Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, located on the campus, is widely regarded for its contributions to theater.

Education and Community Engagement

Education and community engagement are at the heart of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Programs like Arts Teach, American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School, and Studio D Arts School for All Abilities reflect the Center’s commitment to nurturing talent and making arts accessible to all.

The School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities is a shining example of inclusivity, allowing children to explore their creativity. Summer programs and workshops further enhance the educational experience, fostering a love for the arts among the younger generation.

The Center’s community outreach extends beyond the campus, with initiatives to bring people together through art. The impact of these programs resonates across Orange County, strengthening the bond between the arts and the community.

Recent Developments and Future Prospects

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts continues to evolve, with recent developments like the opening of the new Orange County Museum of Art on October 8, 2022. Designed by Morphosis Architects, the 53,000 square feet structure added a new dimension to the campus.

Upcoming events such as Summer at the Center, Festival Ballet Theatre Gala of the Stars, and Paint Party on the Plaza reflect the Center’s commitment to offering diverse and engaging experiences. The future looks promising, with plans for further expansion and continued dedication to artistic excellence.

The Center’s vision goes beyond performances and exhibitions; it’s about creating a space that inspires, educates, and connects. The journey has been remarkable, and the path ahead is filled with possibilities.


The Segerstrom Center for the Arts stands as a beacon of culture and creativity in Costa Mesa, California. Its historical significance, architectural brilliance, and commitment to community engagement have made it a cherished part of Orange County’s cultural fabric.

From the grandeur of Segerstrom Hall to the intimacy of the Samueli Theater, every corner of the Center tells a story. It’s a place where memories are made, talents are nurtured, and art comes to life.

As the Center continues to grow and evolve, it remains a symbol of what can be achieved when a community comes together to pursue artistic excellence. It’s not just a venue; it’s a celebration of creativity, a testament to human ingenuity, and a promise of a vibrant future for the arts.

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