When Laguna Art Museum became independent after its merger with the Newport Harbor Art Museum (now Orange County Museum of Art) in 1997, the Laguna Beach community was very responsive and involved in the rebuilding of the museum. That included forming several key committees that not only augmented the meager staff at the time (which consisted of two full time people) but also enabled the museum to offer a fairly robust program compared to the small size of its budget.
One of the great outreach committees that formed was the Laguna Beach Film Society. It was an all-volunteer committee that offered the community a chance to see independent films on a regular basis in Laguna. The committee was very committed, enthusiastic, and well organized. They brought on Keiko Beatie as the volunteer programmer, who not only helped the committee select the films but also coordinated the visits from principles of the films to answer questions at pre and post receptions.
The program was a success and had a fairly large group of very supportive members. It brought in more than it spent, which was very helpful to the museum (especially during the early post-merger period). In essence, the Laguna Beach Film Society was an asset to the community of Laguna Beach and helpful in supporting the museum.
The Film Society could not afford to pay for a film curator, so it was Keiko Beatie’s volunteer expertise and connections within the film industry that made the Film Society possible. As was customary for all volunteers working on behalf of the museum, Keiko was reimbursed for her approved out of pocket expenses and we were always very attentive to any discrepancies, which we never encountered.
It has been several years since I left Laguna Art Museum as director. I have not followed the Film Society’s efforts since I left, however I believe that it has added greatly to Laguna’s rich cultural offerings. I hope that the recent article in last week’s Independent regarding the society (“Film Curator Shown the Exit,” March 29) doesn’t lessen its contribution in the eyes of the community. If you are not now a member of the Film Society, I hope you will consider joining.
Bolton Colburn, Laguna Beach