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From Dateline (October 28, 2004)

Fund-Raiser Works to Bring Together Programs With Potential Supporters

As construction continues on the Performing Arts Center expansion, Milly Muzzy, director of development for the College of the Arts, is singularly focused – as she has been for the past two-and-a-half years – on raising funds for the 125,000-square-foot facility. She half-jokingly says that this team effort involves “doing everything, morning, noon and night, 24/7!” Below, she provides a snapshot of that endeavor.


Q: How would you describe your role as a fund-raiser?

We facilitate gifts. We are the connectors. Most people assume we ask for money – and in some cases we do – but in reality, we find people who are philanthropists and volunteers and already supporting our programs. We ask them to connect with and invite their friends and peers to performances. And sometimes, they will actually do peer-to-peer solicitations – that’s the highest and best form of fund raising.

We also research and identify foundations or corporations, so part of my job is to write proposals and grant applications.


Q: What is your goal for the Performing Arts Center?

We’re trying to raise $5 million, which is over and above what the state provided us.


Q: Why $5 million?

We received $39 million from the state for the building, not including funds to equip and furnish it. Out of the three bids we received, the lowest was $5 million over the budget.



Where will the $5 million come from and what is involved in obtaining it?


Mostly from individuals. We started by forming a campaign task force of staff and faculty members and volunteers who are big supporters of the project. Most of them have made their own gifts and we’re asking them to help us connect with people they think will support the project.

It also involves Jerry Samuelson, dean of the College of the Arts, department chairs and various faculty members connecting us with alumni, and people who buy tickets and support the arts in the community. We’re out there meeting people all the time at lunches or receptions, attending group activities. We’re also identifying corporations and foundations and writing proposals. A big part of our efforts is bringing prospective donors to campus to see our students perform. Once people see them they become involved and want to give. Three of our major gifts were a result of people seeing “A Chorus Line” last spring. We received another gift after a couple saw Concert Under the Stars. Many other gifts are from music supporters.


Q: What other ways are you raising money?

We have a lot of different strategies to raise the $5 million. In addition to the campaign task force and bringing people to performances, another strategy is to give people an opportunity to give at smaller levels, and one of the ways we’re doing that is the seat campaign [see article in the Oct. 14 issue of Dateline]. Seats are $1,000 each and we already have about 45 seats sold. These smaller gifts are just as important because they add up to one big gift.

This gives the campus an opportunity to support this magnificent new center. The good thing is they can give through It’s Our University payroll deduction. Many people on campus have said, “When do I get to give?” It was our strategy to wait until we were further along so people could see the building and how fast it’s progressing, because people get more excited once they see a building. If they sign up within the next month or two, they will have a year to pay for it and their plaque will be there for the opening night gala, which will be the first public use of the facility.


Q: What can you tell us about opening night January 2006?

The building will be ready in fall 2005, and that gives us three months to get the kinks out before any public appearances. That evening, we will have a very traditional black-tie event, which will be our last big effort to raise the money to pay for this building.

The opening night gala will be Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006. The star of that evening will be international opera star and distinguished Titan alumna Deborah Voigt. We’ll have a traditional volunteer committee overseeing the event, which will include a dinner beforehand in the Titan Student Union –decorated like a formal ballroom.

The concert will be “Deborah and Friends” in the Vaughncille Joseph Meng Concert Hall. She has developed a cabaret show and it’s going to be directed by Dean Hess. The University Orchestra will be involved, as well as the University Singers. We’re expecting to sell out well ahead of the event.

We have three other performance venues that we’re going to premier the next day. It will involve performances in the James D. Young Studio Theatre, the Hallberg Black Box Theatre and the McGarvey Family Dance Studio.

We’ll have the building dedication Friday, Jan. 13, a campuswide
open house and a community open house, so the opening isn’t just the black-tie gala. There will be several events that will get people involved.


Q: Has anything been planned beyond opening night?
A:  We plan to have an opening season. We’ve invited the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the John Alexander Singers to present special concerts during the first six months of 2006. And, we will bring some additional professional presentations duing non-schooltimes.

Q: Dean Samuelson is leading hard-hat tours for current and prospective donors. Do you plan to offer them to the rest of the campus?
A:  We will have campus tours as construction progresses, but right now the building is very rough and because of safety requirements we can’t take more than 10 people at a time. We are using the tours as a premium to bring prospective donors – so they can really see the site and how incredible it’s going to be. As it gets farther along, which may be in six months, we will definitely have tours. The hard-hat tours came about because I saw the center one day and got so inspired that I said we had to get people in here. We want people to get so thrilled that they buy season tickets or single tickets. We want people on campus, as well as the Fullerton community, to be proud of this facility. Everyone should have a huge sense of pride and ownership. It’s going to be a premier educational facility, as well as an entertainment facility.