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‘MOMENTUM IS PICKING UP’ : ARTS CENTER IN NEED OF $6.7 MILLION TO HIT GOAL

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Times Staff Writer

Five months away from opening, the Orange County Performing Arts Center has raised $64 million in construction monies--$6.7 million short of its goal, Center officials announced Tuesday night at the annual membership meeting.

“We’re just a few yards from the goal line,” Timothy Strader, Center board president, told 250 members gathered at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel. “We’re on a roll. The momentum is picking up every day.”

The cost of the Center’s 3,000-seat, 10-story multipurpose theater, which opens Sept. 29 in Costa Mesa, has been set at $70.7 million. All monies being raised are from private sources.

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Strader and Henry Segerstrom, campaign trustees chairman, also announced that the Center’s endowment drive--a separate effort to raise private pledges for operational underwriting--has also reached the $64-million mark in long-range pledges.

Construction is “90% plus” completed on the main phase--which includes a 350-seat studio facility--they said. Staff members are scheduled to move in Aug. 1.

(Still to be designed is a 1,000-seat second theater, estimated to cost at least $8.2 million and to be built later this decade. An updated study of costs and design is now under way.)

Both Strader and William Lund, Center board chairman for the past year, were reelected at Tuesday’s meeting. Also reelected were executive vice president Diane Dailacis, vice presidents A. Vincent Jorgensen (membership), Hugh Saddington (finance) and Florence Schumacher (special events) and secretary Marilyn Pauley.

Raymond Watson was named vice president for facilities, succeeding John Parker. Watson previously had held that vice president’s post.

Tribute was paid to D. James Bentley, a past Center board chairman and president, who died of a heart attack April 7. Bentley, founder of Bentley Laboratories, was a major donor to various community projects, including a $2-million gift to the Center.

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