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Orange County’s Competitive Advantage Is Its High ARTS IQ!

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Business and the arts were in perfect alignment on Thursday, February 7, at Hotel Irvine as local musicians, performers and visionary leaders celebrated “The Art of Business. The Business of Art.” with almost 700 business executives, academic leaders and elected officials at Orange County Business Council’s Annual Dinner and Installation of the organization’s 2019 Board of Directors. Robbin Narike Preciado, Managing Director and Regional President of Union Bank, was sworn in as Chair of OCBC’s Board of Directors.

Carl St. Clair, Music Director of Pacific Symphony, led the first address of the evening, kicking off the 2019 theme with a tribute to Orange County’s vibrant arts community and arts organizations. “It is our job as artists to give back,” said Maestro St. Clair. “Before [my dear friend and mentor] Leonard Bernstein died, he said, ‘Carl, give back. You’ve got to give back. You’ve got to fly the flag!’ As your Pacific Symphony Orchestra for the last 40 years, that’s exactly what we’ve done … because we know what we’re sharing is powerful. It can lift your spirits. It can touch hearts. It can change lives.”

The evening also featured a panel discussion among four leaders highlighting Orange County’s high arts “IQ” as a competitive advantage for businesses, which should not be taken for granted, but rather nurtured and supported. Moderated by Dr. Jim Doti, Professor and President Emeritus of Chapman University, philanthropic panelists included Joann Leatherby, President of Leatherby Family Foundation; Emile Haddad, Chairman, CEO and President of FivePoint Holdings, LLC; S. Paul Musco, Founder and Chairman of Gemini Industries, and leading donor for Orange County artistic venues including Chapman University’s Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts; and Lucy Dunn, President and CEO of Orange County Business Council.

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“For me the arts are a big part of what makes a complete community,” said Haddad. “Orange County has everything going for it – but there is not a great city or metropolitan area that does not have an arts and lifestyle component, which is what we need to think about. Art is the best way to connect humans in a pure emotional way. And if we’re going to start building the society of tomorrow, we need to start thinking about that and incorporating the arts as a beating heart of our community.”

In recognition of its 2019 theme: ‘The Art of Business. The Business of Art,’ OCBC highlighted Orange County’s history which has taken advantage of the alignment of art and business to great success, including: Madame Helena Modjeska, considered the greatest Shakespearean actress of her time, who emigrated to Anaheim in 1868 bringing artists and actors from all over the world to visit Orange County; Roy Ropp, who founded the annual Pageant of the Masters festival in 1933 to attract visitors to the nascent arts community in Laguna Beach; Walt Disney, who purchased 160 acres of land in Anaheim in 1955 to construct Disneyland as a place for fans to visit, developing into a global media and entertainment phenomenon; and Henry Segerstrom, who built the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 1986, establishing a new level of culture in Orange County with a privately funded arts center, today an internationally-renowned complex home to world-class performing artists.

“Why did OCBC choose ‘The Art of Business. The Business of Art.’ as its theme for 2019? Because it is the essence of our success in Orange County,” said Lucy Dunn, President and CEO of Orange County Business Council. “Since its earliest days, Orange County has inspired artists, actors, musicians – the creative class – from the world over. For decades, artists and entrepreneurs alike have been drawn to this county for its potential.”

The night was also punctuated by mega-watt performances celebrating “The Business of Art,” including: soprano Chelsea Chaves, Pacific Chorale member and graduate of Chapman University; the Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings, Orange County’s premiere youth string orchestra, recognized both regionally and nationally; and a closing act by MONTAGE! Orange County School of the Arts Celebrated Performance Ambassadors, comprised of talented student artists, praised for their high-energy, unforgettable singing and dancing.

Newly installed board chair Robbin Narike Preciado heralded Orange County as a “thriving region not only because of all the businesses – big and small – that create jobs in the area, but also because of the rich arts scene that we help cultivate. As leaders, Orange County is our canvas and we can continue to create beauty and harmony for our region as long as our heart is in it.”