Laguna Beach residents didn't take kindly to the idea of the Pageant
of the Masters being taken other places, and the Festival of Arts
board president and executive director absorbed most of upset
Now-former board president Bruce Rasner and former executive
director Steve Brezzo were subjects of angry letters to the editor
throughout the summer. Both were said to be out of touch with what
the community wanted and too focused on money. Rasner's residence
outside the city and Brezzo's six-figure salary were two of the most
commonly mentioned topics among letter-writers.
The debate started just as the festival was beginning, when the
art community started hearing about the possibility of the Pageant of
the Masters being licensed and performed in other areas. Brezzo, who
was hired by the board to find new sources of revenue, brought the
licensing idea to the board and a potential client, International
Creative Management in Hollywood.
Rasner and other board members who supported the idea stressed
that they were agreeing only to discuss licensing the pageant, but
nothing had been decided. As backlash against the board grew, Rasner
said he couldn't understand how a community as enlightened as Laguna
Beach in so many ways could be so against listening to an idea.
Rasner and other board members who supported at least discussing
licensing said throughout the ordeal that too many people were being
heard who didn't know all of the facts.
Brezzo resigned about two months after the story broke, saying he
couldn't do the job he was hired for in a community that wouldn't
Rasner, whose term on the board was up at the end of the season,
ran again but came well short of being re-elected. His lengthy term
as an exhibiting artist and his leadership on the committee that
helped keep the festival from moving to San Clemente four years
earlier were his most oft-mentioned high points.
Festival members, however, elected the slate of David Young, Anita
Mangels and Carolyn Reynolds, a trio who vowed to stop talking about
licensing and give the festival more of a community feel.
-- Mike Swanson