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Claire Segal, Longtime PR and Marketing Exec for the Arts in Los Angeles, Dies at 94


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Claire Segal, a public relations and marketing executive who represented Southern California arts centers, organizations and nonprofits like the Los Angeles Music Center, L.A. Opera and the Center Theatre Group, has died. She was 94.

Segal died Wednesday of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles, her daughter Laura Stegman announced.

Segal, who served from 1979-87 as the Music Center’s first director of public affairs and marketing at a time when an umbrella arm handled fundraising for all its resident companies, helped ensure the Music Center’s legacy and the work it presented on its stages.

She created and supervised its PR, advertising and promotional activities and the marketing program for its annual Unified Fund campaign, including its first direct mail, tele-fundraising and subscribers’ appeals.

Segal also created and wrote all fundraising materials, annual reports and broadcast/print advertising used in the campaign. During her tenure, the fund goal increased from $3.8 million to $12.3 million, and the number of donors jumped from 4,000 to more than 16,000.

Among the projects and events she helped launch were the Joffrey Ballet’s first L.A. residency; the annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival, now in its 50th year; the Very Special Arts Festival; and Robert Graham’s stunning “Dance Door” sculpture.

Segal created and produced the arts periodical Music Center News, a five-part cable TV series, Offstage, and a series of posters featuring the work of some of L.A.’s premier visual artists, and she was instrumental in the creation of such special events as the Music Center MERCADO, a huge “garage sale” fundraiser held on the center’s plaza featuring donated designer goods.

Throughout her career, she was a highly regarded and influential mentor to a new generation of arts publicists who today represent some of the country’s leading cultural institutions.

After leaving the Music Center, Segal transitioned to a new chapter in her career when she and her late husband, motion picture advertising/publicity executive Maurice Segal, formed the Segal Co., which would gain renown for its arts expertise.

In addition to L.A. Opera and Center Theatre Group, their clients included Huntington Museum and Library; UKLA — A Celebration of British Arts, a three-month festival; The Blue Ribbon of the Music Center; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Pasadena Symphony; Pacific Asia Museum; the UCLA Arts Council’s Thieves Market; Broadway at the Bowl; John Wayne Cancer Institute; Governor’s Awards for the Arts; Constitutional Rights Foundation; American Ireland Fund; The Hollywood Reporter; and many others.

In 2000, the Segal Co. returned to the Music Center as consultants to act as project managers on a major marketing research study and branding program that involved a new look for the Music Center, developing a new logo and redoing its signage in preparation for the 2003 opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Born in New York, Segal graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in journalism. Before joining the Music Center, she served in New York as creative director and fashion copywriter for the Dowd, Redfield and Johnstone advertising agency and for Stern’s department stores and was a copywriter at Macy’s; had her own L.A. advertising business; was a story editor for United Artists; and was director of promotions for The Broadway department stores, responsible for PR and special events activities for 50 stores in five states.

Segal was the author of the 1973 travel book Off the Beaten Path in Paris, and with her husband, she wrote travel articles for Westways and other magazines. She also taught classes in sales promotion, advertising and copywriting at the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising in L.A.

She served on the Central City Association’s Downtown Task Force; on the boards of Women in Business, UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women, the Los Angeles Children’s Museum and the L.A. Downtowners; and as a trustee of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica.

Survivors include her daughters, Laura and Susan; son-in-law Hugh; and grandson Benjamin. Her husband died in October.

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