Arts giants paired together on Chinese cultural festival, which led to newest honor.
He has received many awards for his contributions to the arts. But this one, Henry Segerstrom said, is unlike any other.
The man who donated the land in Costa Mesa where the Orange County Performing Arts Center stands has been chosen to receive the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence.
“I really feel that this is a recognition of the accomplishment of Orange County and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts,” Segerstrom said Monday. “I would love to have it be a stepping stone, a threshold if you will, for us to achieve local, regional, national and international recognition.”
Only three others have received this award, which recognizes leadership in arts philanthropy, from the storied New York City music and performing arts venue.
“It’s a grand award for years of working to build a recognition for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and that is really the greatest reward,” he said.
Segerstrom, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, which owns South Coast Plaza, will receive the award at a gala at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on June 7. The gala will benefit Carnegie Hall’s public school programs.
The medal of excellence recognizes business community members who have shown commitment to philanthropy, said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director.
“It’s two parallel criteria, one to be an outstanding businessman or a family business person who’s done an extraordinary job in whatever organization he’s been involved with,” Gillinson said in a phone interview. “In parallel, it’s someone who had a lifetime of outstanding commitment to philanthropy. And when you hear the definition, you see why Henry is an obvious recipient.”
The last medal went in 2008 to Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive of Macy’s, who will be handing the award to Segerstrom. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be an honorary chairman.
The relationship between the arts giants of New York and Orange County began when Carnegie Hall collaborated with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County to stage last year’s Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Celebration of Chinese Culture. Their partnership marked the first time in 120 years that Carnegie Hall worked with an outside organization to put on a festival, which was made possible by Segerstrom.
The partnership between the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Carnegie Hall began when the two discovered that they view art in the same light; that it should be accessed by everyone, poor and rich, and that it should bridge cultures and foster understanding between peoples.
And the partnership continues. Earlier this year, they announced that JapanOC, another festival in collaboration with the three institutions, will come to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this fall.
Naming Segerstrom the medal’s latest recipient has a lot to do with last year’s partnership, Gillinson said.
“Henry has always been on our list for this award,” said Gillinson, who told Segerstrom he had won. “He’s the central figure in what has happened in the arts and culture in Orange County.”