Times Staff Writer

The Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. has made a second $125,000 contribution to the Orange County Performing Arts Center, as part of the Center's intensified drive to reach a $70.7-million construction goal.

The Center has announced $57 million in gifts and confirmed pledges for construction--$13.7 million short of the amount needed to finance the 3,000-seat multipurpose theater and other first-phase facilities opening Sept. 29.

Pacific Mutual's latest contribution was announced Wednesday by Walter Gerken, chairman and chief executive officer of the Newport Beach-headquartered company, and Henry Segerstrom, chairman of the Center's campaign trustees panel.

"This outstanding cultural facility has captured the heart of our community. Realizing the Center is just months from opening, Pacific Mutual has doubled its commitment to the building fund," said Gerken, a member of the Center trustees panel.

Pacific Mutual's overall $250,000 contribution, Gerken added, is the largest donation made to any cause by his company. The first $125,000 contribution to the Center was announced in 1981.

Although the Center has not reached its opening-phase construction target, campaigners have announced $67 million in "deferred pledges" and gifts for an operating endowment. The initial goal was $20 million. Interest to be generated from this fund is to help pay programming, maintenance and other operating costs.

The Center's opening phase includes a 350-seat studio facility, as well as the 10-story-high main hall. Still to be designed is a 1,000-seat theater, projected to be built in the late 1980s.

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