April 2, 2024

City of Irvine Approves Landmark Agreement for Development of Orange County Music & Dance Innovative New Home

The City of Irvine has reached a milestone agreement with Orange County Music & Dance (OCMD), a non-profit community music and dance school in Irvine, that sets the stage for the organization to develop a state-of-the-art new home for its arts education and performance programs. 

The campus will expand from 21,000 square feet to 70,000 square feet, with greatly increased private teaching studios, classrooms, practice rooms, rehearsal and performance spaces with professionally designed acoustics, state-of-the-art technology and recording capacity. An expansive 450-seat theater will be shared with local community groups and ensembles. OCMD’s student body will more than double to over 500 per week and its rehearsal and performance spaces will serve tens of thousands more and be available for other performing arts organizations. 

“We are thrilled to reach this moment, which feels like the exciting seconds right before an orchestra begins a symphony and fills the concert hall with waves of music,” said Douglas Freeman, Executive Chair and CEO of Orange County Music & Dance. “Everything we do is to nurture, inspire and empower and with this expansion we will be able to serve not just Irvine and Orange County, but all Southern California. We thank the City for its investment in our children and the arts by approving the development of our new campus.” 

The approval came during the City’s March 26 meeting of the Great Park Board, which is made up of the Irvine City Council. The agreement lays out clear responsibilities for both OCMD and the City, including the development of site plans and permitting. Once those conditions are met, the City will then provide OCMD with a $1 per year ground lease for its site. The lease for land at Great Park’s Cultural Terrace will cover 50 years, with optional extensions totaling 75 years. The lease along with $91 million the City has invested in preparing the land and bringing in utilities signifies one of the largest gifts from a municipality in the U.S. 

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.  

OCMD is part of The Collaborative, a partnership among 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, The trio will begin welcoming visitors in the summer of 2026.  

“Creativity is an essential part in all of us, nurturing our souls and helping us connect deeply with others,” Freeman added. “At Orange County Music & Dance we focus on inspiring our students and building a lifelong love of the arts. Expanding our facilities will enable all three of our organizations to extend the reach of our programs and increase our services to children and families who historically have not had equitable access to arts, cultural and educational programs.” 

At 1,300 acres, the Great Park will be one of the biggest municipal parks in the U.S. The Cultural Terrace is located on 35 acres adjacent to Great Park’s world-class Sports Complex. Once completed, it will include 200,000 square feet of cutting-edge museum, educational and performing arts facilities.  

“The addition of two well-respected organizations at the Great Park, will help continue the City’s commitment to fostering youth development and providing top-tier educational programs,” said City of Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan. “Further, these nonprofits will contribute to the City’s economic development and ensure the Great Park truly is a park for all.” 

Conveniently located near freeways as well as trains and public transit, the new homes for The Collaborative will meet the educational and developmental needs of families from across Southern California and serve several hundred thousand people annually through an unparalleled mix of engaging child development programs, exciting historical exhibits, inspirational performing arts training and career training. 

According to an economic study of the project by AECOM, cultural and artistic developments such as The Collaborative contribute to local economies in myriad ways, both directly through job creation and ongoing economic activity and as important amenities that enhance an area’s competitiveness.  

Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2025 and is expected to be completed in Fall 2026.  


About Orange County Music and Dance  

Orange County Music & Dance (OCMD) offers the highest quality artistic education, performing arts training and musical experiences for aspiring artists of all ages. 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. You can visit their website to learn more: https://ocmusicdance.org/   


About The Collaborative 

Beginning in the Summer of 2026, The Collaborative at Cultural Terrace will be Orange County’s new center for experiential learning, creativity and inspiration. It includes three non-profit organizations: Orange County Music & Dance, Pretend City Children’s Museum and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. Together they will share 200,000 square feet of education, museum and performing arts space, which will include interactive scientific exhibits, private teaching studios, creative learning spaces for children and families, practice rooms, rehearsal and performance spaces with professionally designed acoustics, outdoor learning areas and state-of-the-art technology and recording capacity. An expansive 450-seat theater will be shared with local community groups and ensembles. Annual attendance is estimated to be 200,000. 

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