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Banner year for festival

Despite the national economic blood-bath, the Festival of Arts came through 2009 with barely a scratch, officials announced Wednesday.

The good news was announced at the annual Membership Meeting at the Festival Forum Theater.

“In 2009, when the economy and real estate tanked and the [U.S.] president is being challenged to make good on campaign promises, we had a banner year,” said festival President Wayne Baglin.

The Pageant of the Masters sold out for the 12th consecutive year, and ground attendance was up, Vice President David Perry reported.

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Baglin attributed the success to the more than 500 dedicated volunteers, including Shari Vanzant and Reg Roby, who were awarded festival lifetime memberships in recognition of their 15 years either backstage or onstage.

Perry saluted the teamwork of the festival department managers: Diane Challis Davy, pageant director; Sharbie Higuchi, marketing and promotions; Susan Davis, membership; Jill Harris-Sturdy, finance; Monica Daebritz, human resources; Lucia McLeod, guest services; Jack Archer, exhibitions; and Gary Fowler, operations.

The meeting included a review of the festival’s permanent collection by Exhibitions Chairman Tom Lamb, who has stepped in for the ailing Archer. Pieces by exhibitors Sandra Jones Campbell, Pat Sparkuhl and Barbara Jones Hendricks were added this year. The collection also acquired the Stillman F. Sawyer library of photographs and a $100,000 grant for curatorial support, 2009 coups.

The 350 pieces in the collection are an artistic history of the 78 years of the festival, Lamb said. Many are on loan and can be seen in venues that vary from museums to the Laguna Beach bus depot.

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Baglin reported that 2009’s successes included a tentative agreement on the disputed lot line between the Festival of Arts and Laguna Playhouse, which are neighbors.

“When we signed the lease with the city in 2002 the legal description of the grounds was in error,” Baglin said. “The lot line bisected the [festival] offices.

“For six years, the city, the playhouse and festival couldn’t reach an agreement, but we met last week with the city and we expect approval in January by the council and we will know what we have leased from the city for 40 years.”

Secretary Pat Kollenda reported $73,000 awarded in the 2009-10 academic year. Scholarships are now open to all Laguna Beach residents, regardless of where they go to school, Kollenda said.

Kollenda was one of three reelected to the board by default. Four-time President Anita Mangels, Lamb and Kollenda were the only nominees, precluding the need for a ballot, Baglin said.

In a closed session following the general meeting, Baglin was reelected by the board to another term as president. Perry will continue to serve as vice president, and Kollenda retained her role as secretary. Mangels will replace Fred Sattler as treasurer, although he remains on the board.

Ann Webster, Bob Moffett and Steven Dicterow round out the board.

The meeting opened with a montage of the 2009 season and ended with the preview of the tableaux vivants that will be included in the 2010 show, titled “Eat Drink & Be Merry.” Fowler produced both videos.

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Challis Davy said she had the theme in mind long before the economy went south.

“In tough times, most of us could use some art entertainment that’s just for the fun of it,” Challis Davy said.

Webster, who has been associated with the pageant for more than 35 years, said the process for selecting art has changed dramatically.

“In the old days we had five people making suggestions; now we had 80-some bringing works they hoped to get into the show,” Webster said.

That includes the cast for the 2010 show. Casting is set for Jan. 9, 12 and 14.



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