Muck Gala Raises Funds for Arts Programs

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center held its Annual Gala on August 27. The theme was SS Muckenthaler: Voyage to Paradise. There were cocktails, dinner from Colette’s Catering and Events, dancing, live music, and a silent auction. All proceeds will support arts education programming at The Muck.

Photo by Rico Mejia.

Attendees were invited to “sail once again aboard the luxurious ocean liner SS Muckenthaler as she calls at the tiny Polynesian island of Muckatoa.” This tiny “island” afforded wonderful views, charming shopping, great music, tikis, and an enormous volcano.

Photo by Rico Mejia.

“My favorite gala moment this year was undoubtedly the eruption of the volcano,” Muckenthaler CEO Farrell Hirsch said. “Not only because it was an awesome visual but because it’s a symbol of how and why we throw the best galas. They’re unique once in a lifetime events that our guests never forget.”

Photo by Rico Mejia.

The Muck’s previous galas have taken guests up the Nile in 1936, down the Mississippi in the 1880s, and on a 1950s Scavenger Hunt through Fullerton.

This year’s gala sponsors included GigabitNow, OC Elder Law, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Meridian Travel, Colette’s Catering and Events, and Kathy Riddle and Don Albert.

“The 2022 Gala was the most successful fundraiser we’ve ever had in terms of money raised. We haven’t finished all the accounting yet but we estimate that the final number will come in at around three times what we expected,” Hirsch said. “It takes between 1.5 and 2 million dollars to run the organization every year and all of that has to be raised from somewhere.”

After the event, this reporter interviewed Hirsch via e-mail about the present and future of the Muckenthaler.

How would you describe art?

In its simplest sense, art is a purposeful expression meant to elicit an emotion. That’s really it. A painting, a song, a sculpture, a play all say SOMETHING. But it’s also the ability to touch a part of your soul. It’s a form of higher communication. It’s the search for universal truth. At its best, art is a new way to look at something you’ve seen countless times.

What is the legacy of the Muckenthaler?

The Muck is the legacy of the Muckenthaler family, and The Muck’s legacy is that we’ve touched literally hundreds of thousands of lives. I can’t go anywhere in Northern Orange County without someone saying “I was married there,” “I love your car show,” “We’ve seen a hundred concerts there,” “Our kids go to your camp,” “My mom takes lessons there,” “Had my high school reunion at The Muck.”  That’s our legacy—that we are so integrated into the lives of so many.

How does the Muckenthaler contribute to the community?

There are so many ways we contribute to the community. Did you know we do about 5-6 free to the community festivals every year? We have an annual Quinceanera for families that would like to continue that cultural tradition but don’t have the ability to right now. We also have a summer camp for kids on the autism spectrum, classes for the visually impaired, art therapy for PTSD victims. We run classes in facilities for victims of domestic violence, for teens without a permanent home, for recent immigrants, for parolees. We even have three weekly yoga classes which are pay-what-you-can. And people don’t usually think of a sculpture garden as “for the community,” but it’s free art, on display 24/7/365.

When someone donates to Muckenthaler, where does the money go?

For the most part, money donated to the Muck goes into one of the programs I’ve been mentioning. In fact, many donors take the time to earmark their donations for a specific cause. Maybe that’s for the Autism Spectrum Camp. Maybe it’s for our school programs. Maybe it’s for our capital campaign. But if you are donating, you get the option to choose.

Can you tell us about future projects?

There are two big items on the close horizon. We’re in the midst of the largest and most successful capital campaign in the history of The Muck. We’re raising money to replace a dilapidated, outdated classroom building with a new, more modern and functional facility. We expect groundbreaking before the end of this calendar year. And we hope to have it ready for Summer Camp in June 2023.

The other big item up ahead of us is the Centennial celebration for the Mansion in 2025. We haven’t publicly announced all of the plans yet but it’s a year long party honoring the Muckenthalers, their legacy, and everything that has happened here since it became an arts space.

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