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Irvine Barclay Theatre: Celebrating 30 Years of Performing Arts, Music & Engaging Speakers

Since opening in 1990, Irvine Barclay Theatre has emerged as one of California's most imaginative and innovative performing arts venues. A unique collaborative venture between the City of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine, and private donors, Irvine Barclay Theatre has firmly established itself as a premier venue offering a wide array of programming with top artists.  

The 750-seat "jewel box" theater, which is nationally renowned for its intimate atmosphere, superb acoustics, and high quality production facilities, offers classic ballet and contemporary dance; theater arts, including the renowned National Theatre Live, which broadcasts performances from London’s West End in HD; National Geographic Live, offering fascinating presentations by today’s leading explorers, scientists and photographers; a variety of music genres, one of the leading jazz series on the West Coast; and esteemed speakers and authors sharing their work and their take on today.

Irvine Barclay Theatre was established to broaden the scope, availability and appreciation of performing arts in Orange County. The vision was to showcase top quality artists, provide a superior facility for local and regional arts groups, and to enhance UCI's educational mission, particularly the programs generated by its Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The theatre name honors the late Richard Barclay, an area philanthropist who provided the leading gift for the theatre's construction.

The theatre auditorium is named for the late local philanthropists Dr. George and Arlene Cheng. In revisiting the Barclay's 30th Anniversary, we found these remarks from Dr. George Cheng during our opening dedication. True then, they are even more important today.

"The Chinese words for America are 'mei guo,' which means beautiful country. This is the land of dreams for immigrants from all over the world. My wife, Arlene, and I are so fortunate to have this privilege to enhance the arts. This is our humble gratitude to this great nation, the United States, for the fulfillment of our dream.

Hopefully the multi-racial community of Orange County will use this theater to promote ethnic culture in music dance, and plays for the better understanding of each race, so that we can all live in joy and peace."

Dr. George Cheng
Excerpts from comments made during the dedication of Irvine Barclay Theatre and Cheng Hall (1990)

Irvine Barclay Theatre has become a magnet for discerning consumers throughout Orange County and the Southland, as well as a venue of choice for artists when performing in Southern California. Over the years, more than 3 million patrons have attended more than 5,000  Irvine Barclay Presents performances and the theatre has been rented over 3,700 times by different community organizations. 

An independent non-profit organization, Irvine Barclay Theatre is known for its commitment to world-class programming, education, and community outreach. Under the direction of President Jerry Mandel, a respected and award-winning Orange County arts veteran, along with a volunteer Board of Directors, the theatre has significantly increased its breadth of programming, as well as its visitors and donations, setting the stage for another successful 30 years.

Read more:
Irvine Barclay Theatre At the Beginning
The Curtain Rises - Views of Irvine Barclay Theatre's Opening From Those Who Were There