Culture Karma

In Search of Space

By Randy Kraft.

I’m thinking of starting a discussion group on the subject of creativity. I attended one at another arts community recently and believe that Laguna has the resources and interest, although finding a location is the challenge.

At the onset, we might have only a small crowd. Galleries like DeBilzan and Peter Blake are often gracious hosts. I might convince Anastasia’s to open one evening a month. The Indy has meeting space at their new office. The museum uses one of the galleries for their monthly “Conversations” group. Perhaps they might share. The college has classrooms used by Laguna Beach Live that might work.

But what, as one would hope, if the program takes off and we need space for 100 or more? A space with some sort of spectator seating and parking, without breaking the bank. A tall order in this town.

Seven Degrees is a great option for weddings and fundraising events, especially multi-media extravaganzas. The Forum Theater at the Festival of Arts is a cozy theatrical facility with capacity for over 200, but they restrict events to non-profits. No Square Theater might sublet Legion Hall if booked far enough in advance, 85 new seats there. However the Artists’ Theatre and the Playhouse, even if they were available, are price prohibitive. And I’m dreaming if I think I can fill that many seats.

Hotel Laguna’s Rose Garden is cozy and Pacific Edge has a hip deck over the beach, but outdoor space is too risky these days, not to mention the food and drink commitment. The Aliso Creek Inn, formerly Ben Brown’s, has hosted lovely gatherings for Laguna Beach Books and the Laguna Music Festival, at reasonable prices, but still over my head, as this is hardly going to be a money-making venture.

Some of the churches make their meeting halls available, if booked far enough in advance, and the Woman’s Club is a nice space, when available. City Council Chambers is a good size, but politics and art don’t mix well.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small auditorium serving the community or at the library, like the one in Newport? A place suited to panel discussions or special performances, available to locals at a modest price, or better yet, subsidized by the city?

Right now, despite what seems like a plethora of event spaces, most require long lead times, command high prices or are hard to access. As a result, Laguna Beach Seniors moved their Legacy Ball to Pelican Point and Friendship Shelter hosted their annual gala at Balboa Bay Club in Newport, both smashing events albeit out of town.

We sorely need space for cultural events, as well as weddings and galas, and I hope one day our city planners might add this to their project list: a facility where a resident might mount interesting assemblies for fellow residents.

Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.

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