For Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts, more than $800,000 in net revenue for the year was nothing new under the sun.
Officials said the nonprofit organization that presents the annual summertime Festival of Arts fine-art show and accompanying Pageant of the Masters “living pictures” production netted about $802,000 overall in the 2017-18 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
Board treasurer Fred Sattler said the money will go toward paying off last year’s renovation of the grounds and preparing for next year’s production.
“This fiscal year was very similar to the past several fiscal years,” Sattler said. “It’s just the nature of the organization that we are able to do this. We’re very fortunate that we don’t have to rely on large donations, as many other art organizations do.”
The Pageant of the Masters, which features live re-creations of famous artworks, sold tickets ranging from $15 to $260. The 2018 theme, “Under the Sun” — an homage to Laguna’s legacy as an art colony — featured reenactments of works by local artists Julia Bracken Wendt, Joseph Kleitsch, Anna Hills, William Griffith and Rex Brandt.
Pageant ticket sales accounted for about 65% to 70% of the organization’s revenue, Sattler said. Other funds came from art show ticket sales, festival memberships, corporate sponsorships and, in small proportion, donations, he said.
“We’re not going to be changing the formula much,” Sattler said. “A lot of continuity from year to year.”
About 200,000 people attended the art show and pageant, keeping with the past couple of years, said Festival of Arts marketing director Sharbie Higuchi.
The festival has $18 million in net assets — a more than $5-million increase from five years ago. Sattler attributed the increase to the $10-million upgrade to the festival’s pathways, restrooms, roofs and gift shop. He said about $4.5 million in debt is left from the renovations.
“The success of the festival and pageant doesn’t happen by chance,” board President David Perry said in an email. “It is the hard work, creativity and dedication of the people involved ... the staff, volunteers, artists, members and the community.”
The festival also awarded a total of $87,400 to 48 area college students studying film, performing arts, visual arts and writing. Most of the funding for the scholarships came from the festival’s operating budget, and almost $10,000 came from community donations, Higuchi said.
“Scholarships help not only to lessen the impact of rising tuition costs but are also game-changers for students to realize their ambitions and dreams,” Pat Kollenda, festival board secretary and chairwoman of the scholarship committee, said in an email. “We feel privileged to be able to support such bright and promising students in the arts.”
Since the 2018 festival closed Sept. 1, the Laguna Beach City Council has endorsed a plan proposing to make the Festival of Arts grounds on Laguna Canyon Road the center of a downtown Civic Arts District. The plan, dubbed the Creative Placement Assessment, recommends encouraging use of the grounds for purposes outside the summer festival and improving the Irvine Bowl, home of the Pageant of the Masters.
The festival and pageant have attracted visitors from around the world for eight decades. The pageant’s 2019 theme, announced this month, will be “The Time Machine,” featuring scenes from the ancient past, recent history and artists’ imagining of the future.