Laguna Art Gets $75,000 From City


The Laguna Beach City Council voted Tuesday to give $75,000 to the Laguna Art Museum, allotting the largest city subsidy in the 79-year-old institution’s history.

“This is a significant milestone in the city’s history,” said Mayor Paul Freeman, who voted for the funding in a four-to-one decision. Councilman Wayne L. Peterson cast the “no” in a vote that determined the 1997-98 city budget.

The city had given the museum about $2,000 annually for roughly a decade. In 1985, it contributed $20,000 to a museum expansion.


In the wake of a recent successful grass-roots campaign to restore the institution as an independent entity in Laguna Beach, rather than a satellite of the Newport Beach-based Orange County Museum of Art, the museum board in May requested $122,500 from the city.

One-third of the $75,000 is unrestricted; that portion must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the museum, the council said. One-third must be devoted to capital improvements; $25,000 will hinge on an agreement between the city and the museum on how it should be spent, Freeman said.

The council, now the museum’s largest single funder, wants the institution to open its board meetings to members, Freeman said after the council meeting, and to balance its proposed 1997-98 budget of about $600,000, which shows a deficit of about $126,000.

“I don’t anticipate at all that we’ll be funding [the museum] at this level” in the future, Freeman said. The funds signal “the council’s support for not just the Laguna Art Museum, but our anticipation of being more supportive of the arts” throughout the city.

The museum in 1996 merged with the Newport Harbor Art Museum to form the O.C. Museum of Art and initially operated as a semiautonomous satellite. Supporters reclaimed its deed in April. The Laguna museum maintains full responsibility for its funding.

The city subsidy will probably be spent in part on a new roof and a fund-raising coordinator’s salary, museum officials said Tuesday.


“I don’t think the city is going to be saddled with having to fund the museum year in and year out,” said museum director Bolton Colburn. “It’s great that they’re coming through at a critical time in the museum’s history.”