In celebration of the school’s 30th anniversary, the sold-out event exceeded its $1 million goal for the first time ever in support of arts education.

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Mar. 23, 2017 – The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Foundation’s prestigious black-tie event, Gala 2017: “Enter a World of Pure Imagination…Expect the Unexpected” raised $1.4 million in support of OCSA’s 14 arts conservatory programs on Mar. 18, 2017 at Hotel Irvine. This is the first time the OCSA Foundation exceeded its $1 million goal at its largest fundraiser of the year. In celebration of the public arts charter school’s 30th anniversary, the school’s foundation honored its newly formed Emeritus Board for their work in guiding OCSA to be one of the nation’s premier arts schools.  Emeritus Board members include Julia Argyros, John Daniels, Brad Ellis, J.D., Paul Folino, Carol Green, Mike Mekjian, Jr., James “Walkie” Ray, Judy Sabbagh, Susan Samueli, Ph.D., Janice Frey Smith, Kate St. Clair, Russell Stern, John Vestri, and Lew Webb.

Nearly 650 guests were whisked away on a musical journey that featured a dazzling display of pure imagination combining artistry and fantasy. After the silent auction and cocktail hour, more than 200 OCSA students treated guests to an energetic stage production, featuring songs by legendary artists, such as: Danny Elfman, Prince, Coldplay, Vivaldi, Pentatonix, Celine Dion, and Sir Paul McCartney.

The Fund-a-Dream portion of the evening raised $579,500 for the school’s Artist Scholar Sponsorship Program, which funds economically disadvantaged students. OCSA currently has 220 students whose families are living below the national poverty level with a household income of $35,000 or less. Dr. Mohamed El-Erian generously matched $250,000 of all funds donated towards Fund-A-Dream at the event. The following donors gave a lead gift of $25,000 during Fund-A-Dream:

  • Lisa Argyros and John Massa
  • Sandy Segerstrom Daniels
  • Mike and Maureen Mekjian
  • Jaime Walters El-Erian
  • Susan and Henry Samueli

Additionally, the live auction raised $18,500 featuring the following items:

  • The Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Exclusive Experience featuring the opportunity for four guests to celebrate the launch and ride the new attraction at an invitation-only launch and premiere party, preview the all-new epic Summer of Heroes experiences arriving at Disney California Adventure® Park, a two-night stay at the Disneyland Hotel, four three-day Park Hopper tickets, and a VIP Tour Guide was purchased by James Newkirk for $10,000. This exclusive Disney experience was donated by the Disneyland Resort.
  • A Private Dinner for 10 at Spaghettini Fine Dining and Entertainment was purchased by Jackie Barnardi. She competed against 19 guests during the game “Last Card Standing” to win the dinner, and they collectively raised $8,500. This item was generously donated by Joy and Cary Hardwick.

The opportunity drawing, that featured exquisite jewelry valued up to $20,000 from Twila True Fine Jewelry, raised $11,600. The silent auction raised $131,200 and showcased original artwork created by Visual Arts Conservatory students, alumni and faculty, and premier packages generously donated by local businesses.

The following community leaders were table sponsors at the sold-out event:

$50,000 Executive Producer’s Circle:

  • Sally Segerstrom Andrews and Toby Andrews
  • Melanie and Mike Harrah

$30,000 Producer’s Circle:

  • Lisa Argyros / Argyros Family Foundation (2)
  • Maureen and Mike Mekjian
  • Martha and James Newkirk

Twila True generously donated over $70,000 in value of luxury items in support of OCSA’s comprehensive and progressive arts educational program. Corporate underwriters for this event include: Audi Mission Viejo, Audi Newport Beach, Audi South Coast, Walter’s Audi, Advanced Litho, Photography, Audio by the Bay, Brite Ideas, Eric Anderson, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Goodman Audio Services, Hotel Irvine, MAC, Paul Mitchell The School, Paradise Delight Florals, Savvy Travelers, St. Michelle Wine Estates, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Vans.

Gala 2018 will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at Hotel Irvine.  For additional information about the OCSA Foundation’s annual gala, visit   


About Orange County School of the Arts: 
The nationally recognized Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) provides a creative, challenging and nurturing environment that offers bright and talented students unparalleled preparation for higher education and a profession in the arts. Established in 1987, the school currently serves more than 2,100 gifted students in grades 7-12. OCSA offers students the opportunity to focus on one of the 14 arts conservatories offered, including acting, classical & contemporary dance, classical voice, commercial dance, creative writing, culinary arts & hospitality, digital media, film & television, instrumental music, integrated arts, international dance, musical theatre, production & design, and visual arts.  In 2017, OCSA was named the second Best Charter High School in California by Niche Rankings. It is the only specialized arts program of its kind in the region to offer tuition-free academic and arts instruction to students from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. The non-profit school relies solely on private donations, totaling $8.5 million annually, to fund the 14 arts conservatories offered. For additional information, visit

Written By Sabrina

Former Marketing Associate