Laguna’s Modern Medici
By Randy Kraft
As long as the human race has created art there have been patrons of the arts. From the first patrons of feudal Japan to the Medici of Florence or the Warburgs and Guggenheims of New York, certain families are ubiquitous and generous. Laguna is no exception.
There are many here, of course, but seems to me a few names stand out. When was the last time you were at an arts festival or fundraising event without the presence of Gary and Betsy Jenkins, Joe and Jane Hanauer, Nancy and Mike Meyer, Sam and Pam Goldstein, or Chris Quilter? They show up, they serve as trustees or advisors, they host special events, they purchase tables or blocks of tickets, and they encourage others to do the same
These folks are the modern equivalents of European nobility. It wasn’t until the spread of capitalism that the arts became more dependent on funding by government agencies and general donations. Still, whatever we call the system, support of the arts is concentrated in the hands of those who serve as artistic ballast, especially on these stormy economic seas.
Betsy Jenkins, who recently hosted an intimate classical music performance as a fundraiser for Laguna Beach Music Festival, confided to me that she just loves to dress up. Given her active role as board member for the Festival as well as the Laguna Beach Unified School District, and Gary’s directorship for Friendship Shelter and Schoolpower, we know their commitment to the community goes far deeper. Joe Hanauer also serves on the board of the Festival as well as the Playhouse, while Jane serves on the boards of Friendship Shelter and the Laguna Art Museum. Nancy Meyer was the founding member of Laguna Dance Festival’s board and remains active; she and Mike frequently host events for the Festival as well as for UC Irvine, among others. Sam Goldstein is one of the founding members of Laguna Beach Live, and he and Pam have been advocates of the local art scene for many years. Chris Quilter devotes much of his time as chairman of Laguna Beach Seniors and co-author of Lagunatics, but he shows up at just about every major arts event in town and he brings his friends.
Patrons in history were often accused of using sponsorship to promote a political agenda, while the Medici were suspected of using patronage as a form of money laundering. Our modern-day nobles have earned considerable prestige the old-fashioned way: they put their time and their money where their hearts are. In this season of thanksgiving, say thanks next time you run into them. You’ll find them wherever the arts events are.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.