City Councilman Paul Freeman is encouraging Festival of Arts exhibitors to recall festival board members who want to move the summer institution south.

About 75 exhibitors converged at the City Council meeting Tuesday night, protesting stalled lease negotiations between the festival and the city. The festival is now in exclusive negotiations with San Clemente for a new lease on a 30-acre site in the Talega development.

Freeman, a professional negotiator for South Coast Plaza, said he believes the festival board never intended to renew its lease with the city. He said as soon as the two parties would come close to an offer, the board would back away.

“Really, what it’s about is a 30-acre outdoor theater venue [available in San Clemente],” Freeman said, addressing the exhibitors. “We haven’t betrayed your trust. I hope you do recall them.”