Festival of Arts posts another great year

Another opening, another show, another success.

Festival of Arts officials announced at the annual membership meeting in the Festival Forum Theatre that the 2012 season was both a financial and artistic triumph.

Moreover, the festival's permanent collection was enhanced with a donation from Realtor Michael Gosselin of a painting by Roy Ropp, the father of the Pageant of the Masters.

"This was our most successful year ever," said Anita Mangels, festival treasurer.

Mangels attributed the success to the dedication of the staff and 500 volunteers, without whom the show could not be financially viable, nor make possible the thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants awarded every year.

Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Pat Kollenda reported that $84,000 in scholarships was awarded in the 2012-13 academic year, quite a bit more than the $26,000 awarded in the 2011-12.

"The scholarships are one of the most important and productive functions of the festival and there is nothing more fun than talking about giving away money," Kollenda said.

"There were 18 freshman awards [graduating high school seniors]: three in dance, two in film, five in music, three in theater, four in visual arts and one in writing," she added. "Their grade point average was 3.52."

The festival also awarded 31 scholarships to returning recipients.

"We are one of the few scholarship donors that follow recipients for four years, if they maintain their grades and take classes [in the field] for which they won the award, Kollenda said."

Mangels, who was reelected to the board along with Steven Dicterow and Robert Moffett, said it gave her pleasure to talk about how much money the festival makes.

She announced that the $9,401,344 grossed in 2012 exceeded projections. With expenses of roughly $8.3 million the festival netted $1,134,074, also better than projected, and $139,000 better than the previous year.

Seventy-five percent of the revenue came from Pageant of the Masters ticket sales, a tribute to the quality of the show and the loyalty of patrons, Mangels said.

The revenue is spent on producing the show, art education programs, entertainers and grounds improvements.

Improvements in 2012 included $310,000 spent on seismic retrofits, $100,000 on landscaping to buffer the grounds from surrounding development, $200,000 on the sound system and more than $100,000 to upgrade the stage and the façade.

"We are grateful to have the financial assets to do that," Mangels said. "But there is no better asset than our members, our board of directors, our staff and the volunteers."

Life memberships were awarded to Sherri Martin, Kathy Helling, Chris Reiser, Donna Wigdore and Nina Reich for their 15 or more years of volunteering. Barbara Price was honored for 30 years of service.

Born in the Great Depression, the festival has survived the Great Recession and thrived, Mangels said.

Fred Sattler, who was reelected president by the board, said the festival has remained true to the vision of John Hinchman and the group of artists who held the first festival 80 years ago.

"The purpose is to encourage and promote all appropriate activities conducive to the artistic and cultural development of the community in and about the city of Laguna Beach, California," Sattler said.

The purpose has been served in the past eight decades by creating this cultural arts campus where the arts are experienced and enjoyed year round, providing a showcase for more than 3,500 artists, educational programs for adults and children, the Junior Art Exhibit, which began in 1947, more than $3 million in scholarships, founding the School of Art, which has evolved into the Laguna College of Art & Design, and the Festival Foundation, which has awarded more than $2.6 million in grants to local arts organizations, helping the city to finance the acquisition of Main Beach and the production of the pageant.

"We have survived war, fire, flood and a near-miss move to San Clemente, as well as economic uncertainties," Sattler said. "Thanks to the dedication of our founders, board, staffs and volunteers, we are looking to an exciting future that will build on our tradition and yield new opportunities to promote the arts right here in Laguna."


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