Festival of Arts’ $10-million facelift gets started


Renovation of Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts grounds began last week, with crews demolishing concrete canopies that once housed exhibit spaces, an arts center and a concert stage.

Once complete, the $10-million project — put on hold for a year in expectation of El Niño-induced rains that failed to materialize in Orange County — will feature terraced exhibit spaces, updated restrooms and wider pathways.

It also will include upgrades to the gift shop, a junior art exhibit space, a lawn area and a concert stage. The Irvine Bowl will not receive any work under the renovation, whose expected completion date is July, before the summer festival opening.

Festival officials proposed the changes to “improve patrons’ experiences” and comply with Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements, according to a city staff report.

When asked which aspect of the project he’s most excited about, festival board President Fred Sattler said: “I’m glad for all of it. It’s been since the middle 1960s that any significant work has been done.”

Visitors to the city-owned grounds at 650 Laguna Canyon Road will notice altered layouts from the previous configuration.

The lawn area, made of synthetic turf, and the stage were previously in the center of the grounds, surrounded by art exhibit spaces.

In the new layout, the lawn area and stage will move to the front of the site to provide a “more appropriate public park setting upon entering the grounds,” according to city staff.

The City Council unanimously approved the renovation in July 2015. Festival officials began mulling how they would pay for the $10-million project about 10 years ago and started saving, Sattler said.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce