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The Crowd:

O.C. business honored at holiday dinner

November 29, 2007|By B.W. COOK

It is one of the grand holiday events of the year in Orange County. The annual Business Committee for the Arts awards presentation and dinner unfolded last week in Newport Beach. Honors were bestowed upon three outstanding citizens, David Emmes, Martin Benson and Judith O’Dea Morr, for their significant career contributions to the Orange County cultural landscape.

Emmes and Benson, co-founders of South Coast Repertory Theater in 1964, have been nationally recognized as the creative force behind one of America’s leading theatrical organizations. O’Dea Morr has served the community for 21 years as the executive vice president of the Orange County Performing Artscenter bringing some of the world’s most acclaimed performances to the region.

In addition to the arts awards, the ceremony, which took place at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel in Fashion Island, recognized a variety of businesses and their executives for ongoing contributions to culture. Accolades went to The Aura Group, Crevier BMW, the Capital Group Companies, Merrill Lynch, Automobile Club of Southern California, Cartier Inc., South Coast Plaza, Tiffany & Co., Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and Narratus, Inc.

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The evening was emceed by Paul Folino, executive chairman of Emulex Corporation, who also serves as the chairman of the OCBCA. Folino introduced the guest speaker and guest of honor, Kristina Dodge, representing husband Larry Dodge’s company, American Sterling Group. The Dodges have become community activists most notably recognized for their major donation to Chapman University culminating in the creation of Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Kristina delivered a thoughtful address concerning the relationship of business and culture in the American community and the important interconnection between serving the arts and its effect on the enrichment of lives and the growth of children, thus impacting the bottom line of any business in any community in America. Kristina also challenged the crowd, largely consisting of the region’s very top business leaders, that Orange County needs to do more. With a burgeoning population the opportunity to improve the standard of living in what is one of America’s already most successful regions will require businesses to step forward and get involved to a greater degree. Her message was clear: The more we do, the greater the reward for all concerned.

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