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Taking Care of Business : Companies and Individuals Honored for Contributions to the Arts in O.C.

November 23, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

A petroleum giant, an upscale clothing retailer and several law firms were among a dozen Orange County businesses honored Sunday for their contributions to the local arts community.

More than 300 guests, including many of Orange County's leading movers and shakers, gathered at the Pacific Mutual building in Newport Beach for the 14th annual Business in the Arts Awards staged by the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts. The $200-per-person awards ceremony, which included dinner at the Ritz restaurant, was expected to net about $60,000 for the OCBCA.

Take a Bow

After mingling at a champagne reception held in a large tent festooned with poinsettias, guests moved to an adjacent conference room and settled into white fold-out chairs for the ceremony. Richard Stegemeier, chairman emeritus of Unocal Corp., served as the keynote speaker.

"It's appropriate for Unocal to support Orange County arts," said Stegemeier. "We're moving 800 people here to Costa Mesa in February."

With the relocation of its 76 Products Co. division, Unocal has been taking a greater interest in the county's arts organizations, contributing to the Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory.

"We try to choose things that are received and enjoyed by a large number of people," Stegemeier said. "Dollars are hard [for arts organizations] to come by. Most corporations have downsized their contribution to charity. But for any corporation, it's important to put something back into the community. You can't just take and expect to have loyal employees and customers."

Stegemeier joined George Argyros, OCBCA chairman, in presenting the awards. One by one, representatives from each business were called to the podium to accept the etched crystal trapezoid designed by Tiffany & Co.

After the ceremony, guests took a shuttle over to the Ritz, where owner Hans Prager and his staff were waiting to serve them a gourmet dinner of roasted red bell pepper soup and filet mignon with mushrooms.

And the Winner Is . . .

Award winners ranged from a small marketing business to giant Unocal.

"As someone who can't sing or dance, it's a particular thrill for me just to make it to the podium," joked Jeff Oderman, managing partner of the Rutan & Tucker law firm, which received a Return Award given to previous award-winners. O'Melveny & Myers, another law firm, also received a Return Award.

First Time Award Winners were: Hamilton & Samuels law firm; the Marketing Workshop; Johnson & Higgins of California; Unocal Corp.; and Chanel Inc.

"Coco Chanel was a legend not only for her contribution to fashion but for her love of the arts," said Roger Martin, director of Chanel at South Coast Plaza and board member of Opera Pacific. "We have a tradition of supporting the performing and visual arts."

Distinguished Achievement Awards were presented to Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P., Fieldstone Communities Inc., Latham & Watkins, Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. and C.J. Segerstrom & Sons.

The OCBCA's annual Arts Award, presented to a nonprofit arts organization for building innovative partnerships with the business community, went to South Coast Repertory. David Emmes, producing artistic director at SCR, accepted the $1,500 cash grant.

Proceeds from the event will go to the OCBCA, which acts as matchmaker between businesses and local arts organizations.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges that included Michael Botwinick, Suzanne Huffmon Esber, Aaron Lovejoy, Robert McIntyre and Catherine Thyen.

Others accepting awards were: Thomas Sutton, chairman of the board and CEO of Pacific Mutual; J. Steven Roush, partner, Coopers & Lybrand; Frank Foster, regional manager, Fieldstone; Herbert Samuels, partner, Hamilton & Samuels; Lawrence Higby, group vice president and president of the 76 Products Co. for Unocal; Mason Williams, executive vice president and principal, Johnson & Higgins; Mary Boyajian, president, the Marketing Workshop; Jim Selna, partner, O'Melveny & Myers; John Stahr, partner, Latham & Watkins; and Henry Segerstrom, managing partner, C.J. Segerstrom & Sons.

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