Volunteer film curator booted

The Laguna Art Museum dismissed a volunteer film curator last month after finding "financial irregularities" in her work, according to a museum official.

Sharon "Keiko" Beatie, who curated films that were showcased by the Laguna Beach Film Society, received an email from the museum's executive director, Malcolm Warner, that the nonprofit museum, which receives some city funding, was severing its relationship with her March 3, according to Beatie.

Warner said he and George Weiss, head of the film society, made the decision to cut ties.

"We discovered financial irregularities with the way Keiko was running the curatorial side of the film society," said Warner, who declined to elaborate on Beatie's dismissal.

However, Beatie said she contemplated cutting ties with the film society in October because she prefers curating foreign films rather than the California-focused ones favored by the society.

"I wish the best for all the people of the film society and art museum," Beatie said.

The film society hosts screenings the third Thursday of each month at the South Coast Cinema.

Beatie has had her share of legal troubles. In 1997, she pleaded guilty to grand theft, a felony, in Orange County Superior Court and was sentenced to three years probation, according to the court's website.

In late 1998, the Newport Beach Film Festival took Beatie to small claims court, according to the Superior Court website.

Beatie assisted with special projects, programming and administrative services for the film festival, Keith Rosenbaum, who worked with the festival during that time, wrote in an email.

Beatie previously entered into a settlement agreement with the film festival. When Beatie didn't make certain payments, the film festival took her to court, Rosenbaum said.

The basis of the claim under the agreement was misuse of funds, Rosenbaum said.

The court awarded a judgment in favor of the film festival.

Meanwhile, former Laguna Art Museum Executive Director Bolton Colburn praised Beatie's qualifications.

"The film society would not exist without her efforts," said Colburn, who now is a contractor with the Surfing Heritage Foundation. "No one had the expertise to bring in the independent films. No one had the connections and knowledge [like her]."

However, Colburn noted he has not worked with Beatie since he left the museum in 2011.

Beatie said she has been doing a lot of praying since being let go and is trying to move forward.

Warner said he is not sure whether museum and film society officials will seek a replacement for Beatie.

"We're regrouping," Warner said. "We have a number of films in the coming months. It's not necessarily the case we will replace her with one person."


Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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