OC Music & Dance Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Performing Arts Complex

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OCMD groundbreaking: Irvine Councilmember Larry Agran, Charlie Zhang, Councilmember Mike Carroll, Doug Freeman

Newport Beach resident Doug Freeman is in perpetual motion. He’s been involved with so many artistic projects in Orange County as both a donor and as an arts leader that it’s hard to keep up with him.

In 1986, Freeman persuaded then President Ronald Reagan to create National Philanthropy Day, which is celebrated every November in Orange County and other cities around the nation.

Freeman has been a board member of dozens of local charities including the Pacific Symphony and California institute of the Arts.

His latest artistic adventure: Executive Chair and CEO of Orange County Music & Dance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to artistic education, performing arts training and musical experiences for aspiring artists of all ages.

On May 7, OC Music & Dance and the City of Irvine celebrated the groundbreaking and “Great Park Development Open House” at the Cultural Terrace at Irvine’s Great Park.

Rendering of OCMD campus

The location will be the new home to OCMD’s state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot campus and 15,000 square foot performing arts center, allowing OCMD to double its headcount to more than 500 K-12 students and veterans per week with arts education and performance programs.

“Nurturing and inspiring our students is at the epicenter of our work. When students come to Orange County Music and Dance, we see their journey from reluctant and tentative beginner to a confident young artist and capable adult, positively impacting their brain development, life skills, and self-esteem,” said Freeman. “The new building is a place where our students can feel safe, secure, and inspired and is accessible regardless of financial circumstances.”

“We founded OCMD to help encourage students to dream bigger and unlock their greatest potential,” added Charlie Zhang, OCMD Founder and Chairman. “The new OCMD campus will help ensure the fulfillment of musical dreams and life goals for the next generations to come.”

Rendering of the front of the OCMD building

OC Music & Dance is part of The Collaborative, a partnership of three nonprofits: OCMD, Pretend City Children’s Museum and The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. Freeman helped bring the organizations together to create a pioneering project on a unified campus that maximizes sustainable building and landscapes.

Founded in 2017, OCMD offers the highest quality education, training and performance opportunities for K-12 students and veterans, with an endowed scholarship program that ensures that children who want to attend can do so, regardless of their financial circumstances. Nearly 40 percent of OCMD students receive financial aid. Over the next few years, OCMD will increase its endowment from $3.6 million to $5 million, significantly increasing the number of students who will be able to participate.

Rendering of OCMD building

Working with young disadvantaged children, underserved adults and military veterans, OCMD inspires students to explore instrumental music, recording and sound engineering as well as singing and vocal expression. Its endowed scholarship program provides opportunities for all children regardless of financial circumstances.

OCMD is also a Steinway Select School, the only such designation for a nonprofit organization in Orange County, and a Lang Lang International Music Foundation partner, providing students grades 3-6 free piano lessons in Title One Schools.

The Great Park project was approved in March 2024, with the City of Irvine providing OCMD with a $1 per year ground lease for its site for 50 years, with optional extensions totaling 75 years. The lease along with $91 million the City has invested in preparing the land signifies one of the largest gifts from a municipality in the U.S.

Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2025 and is expected to be completed in Fall 2026. Visit https://ocmusicdance.org to learn more.

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