Orange County

‘Sometimes it comes to a point where it’s time for a transition’: Dwyer exits role as Segerstrom president

Terrence Dwyer, seen in an undated photo, is no longer president of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, according to a statement from the center.
(Courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts)

It’s been just over a week since the president of the Segerstrom Center for Arts announced that he is leaving the glittering cultural hub.

“It’s a very exciting change for me,” Terrence W. Dwyer said in a phone interview, “and I’m open to lots of paths forward.”

Press releases issued in the wake of Dwyer’s declaration shed little light on the reasons behind his sudden departure, noting only that he “will pursue other opportunities.”

Dwyer’s comments to TimesOC on Thursday weren’t any more illuminating.


Noting that all “prominent institutions” have certain fundamental truisms in common, Dwyer said that “sometimes it comes to a point … where it’s time for a transition, and we’ve reached that moment at the center.”

Dwyer, 63, referred to the move as “the right time to leave professionally, for my family, and to take a step forward that will make it easier to pursue whatever is the next exciting opportunity that awaits.”

Segerstrom Center president leaves after 12 years »

Prior to his tenure at Segerstrom, he spent 13 years as managing director of La Jolla Playhouse. In April 2006, he was tapped to replace Jerry Mandel as president of what had been known since its inception as the Orange County Performing Arts Center. (The complex was renamed in 2011 to laud the Segerstrom family and mark the venue’s 25th anniversary).


The advent of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and the adjoining Samueli Theater in 2006 may rank among the most significant accomplishments of Dwyer’s tenure, which includes the creation and construction of the Center for Dance and Innovation (2014), the opening of the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza (in 2015) and the School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities (in 2017).

Dwyer also oversaw the establishment of significant educational and community programs and artistic achievements, including major premieres of classical dance and the creation of the annual Off-Center Festival.

He called the period leading up to and immediately following the opening of the concert hall and Samueli Theater “monumental.”

On the drawing board is the impending construction of a new space for the Orange County Museum of Art, which Dwyer said will be “a fantastic addition.”

Yet at a Costa Mesa City Council meeting in January, he expressed concerns that the institution will tax already-strained parking and access to the campus’ existing venues.

Dwyer asserted one positive constant: that the center “has always possessed an ambitious artistic agenda operating at the highest level artistically and has continued to invest in all of its artistic programs.”

Assessing the past dozen years, Dwyer said “I’ve been lucky” and lauded SCFTA’s “strong board and great staff,” as well as “the generosity of the Segerstrom family.”

“We’ve had tremendous openness and support from the community,” he said. “Together, all of us have accomplished some pretty amazing things. I couldn’t be happier [to leave behind a center that’s] in such good shape.”


Interim operations are to be co-led by Executive Vice President Judith Morr and Chief Financial Officer Brian Finck as the center seeks Dwyer’s replacement.

Eric Marchese is a contributor to Times Community News.

Get our Essential California newsletter