Festival reports another good year

Festival of Art officials closed the books on the 2010 season and previewed next year's Pageant of the Masters at the annual membership meeting, held Wednesday in the Forum Theatre.

The meeting set the stage for next year Pageant of the Masters, which pageant Director Diane Challis Davy announced will be a show about fantasy. The theme is "Only Make Believe."

"It is a show about things that exist only in the imagination of the artist, including elves, fairies, and sprites, monkey musicians, a hippograph, a 40-foot-tall skeleton, a headless horseman, a mock turtle, a griffin, a dodo bird, several fire-breathing dragons, an enchanted owl, giant bats, the invisible man, the hydra, cupid, a centaur, mermaids and may other fantastic creatures" Challis Davy said.

A brief slide show of the coming attractions followed Challis Davy's announcement.

Festival officials also had good financial news to report.

The festival was in the black again, maybe not as black as some years, but enough to pay the bills, fund scholarships and still net more than a half million.

"Our finances are sound," festival treasurer Anita Mangels reported. "We are weathering the recession well."

Mangels credited strong ticket sales, prudent management and the cadre of volunteers for the festival's financial well-being.

The income covered almost $400,000 in renovations to the grounds and $79,400 in scholarships, Mangels said.

Festival Treasurer Pat Kollenda oversees the scholarship program.

"This is the most delightful job," she said.

Kollenda announced that 17 awards to college frosh were divided among four in dance, four in music, two in performing arts, four in visual arts and three in writing. Their high school grade-point average was 3.68, Kollenda said, slightly higher than the 3.45 GPA for the 32 returning scholarships, which are renewed for up to four years.

"They are not only talented, they are smart," Kollenda said.

2010 President Wayne Baglin said the year had brought notable changes to the grounds, wrought by staff member Gary Fowler; incredible entertainment, arranged by Events Director Susan Davis; and a Platinum Award for marketing, credited to the efforts of Promotions Director Sharbie Higuchi.

Board member Tom Lamb announced the opening next week of a satellite gallery at Anita Street and South Coast Highway. The inaugural show of Stillman Sawyers' works will be curated by Peter Blake, highly regarded owner of a gallery on Ocean Avenue.

Lamb also announced the opening this winter of an off-site research and archive center on North Coast Highway at Crescent Bay Drive.

Outstanding service to the festival and the pageant were recognized at the meeting.

Rich Lang was honored for his 38 years as official festival and Pageant of the Masters photographer. Lang, who succeeded his father in the job, is retiring this year as festival photographer, but will continue to work with the pageant.

Lifetime Membership Awards were presented to volunteers Doris Figueroa, Pat Fitzgerald and Jitka Rollova, each of them members of the back stage crew for more than 15 years.

"The Pageant of the Masters could not have lasted for 77 years if it were not for our volunteer cast and crew," Challis Davy said. "More than 1,200 people signed up last year and 450 ended up participating.

"We are very grateful for their support and thank all of them."

House Manager Marylin Wood was presented with an etched crystal vase, commissioned especially for her, in recognition of her 50 years of service to the festival.

"Throughout the decades, Marylin has fearlessly faced almost every unexpected front-of-the-house situation imaginable with finesse, professionalism and grace," Challis Davy said. Mangels, who assisted Challis Davy in the presentation, asked where Wood hid her portrait in the attic, a reference to "The Picture of Dorian Gray," which aged while he stayed youthful. Following the meeting, while members enjoyed an hors d'euvres and beverages catered by Tivoli Terrace, Fred Sattler was elected to succeed Baglin as board president in a closed session. Lamb was elected vice president. Mangels and Kollenda were re-elected as treasurer and secretary, respectively.

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