The Laguna Playhouse candidate forum was all but about art. The Alliance for the Arts even refused to hand out its original questions to anyone. This demonstrates powerlessness, especially when done in the name of the arts.
Next to ignoring the increasingly flourishing music scene, galleries were not mentioned at all. Are galleries important to an art city like Laguna? Obviously not. The repeatedly referred to master plan with its 40 plus sub-goals did not even consider galleries, nor did the plan consider a digital strategy, in a time where the only reliable connection to everyone is their smart phone.
What about re-purposing the festival grounds that are closed for 10 months before considering a cultural art center. Or, instead of creating another international art festival, why not open all festivals up to international competition? Artists from all over the world are already exhibiting side by side on the web. Allowing all artists to expose their art will only increase shows to a higher level of creativity and foster inspiration that expands an artist’s creative achievements.
Artists that need to rely on being locally protected from other creatives have lost their way a long time ago.
Contrary to what our ruling parties say, working artists rather want to get paid instead of being treated like charity cases. Most artists need to express themselves and that is because of the artist’s process of conception, creation and exposure.
Artists do not mind driving into the city as long as they have a venue to perform. If Laguna provides housing and Santa Ana has venues, artists will live here and perform outside our town. You keep artists if you keep creating opportunities to express themselves, not because you house them. With an average home at $1.7 million, affordable housing will always be an illusion that only serves political means to make the city look like it cares.
Why not talk about easy opportunities for artists to express themselves and get paid?
If Laguna wants to enliven its art landscape, it needs to let go of the delusion of being an art-relevant city and its distorted perception that art is what it was 30 years ago. Relevance is achieved through establishing a cultural vision that clearly distinguishes Laguna Beach from other art-focused cities and defines its creative voice as a unique contributor to the international art scene.
Michaell Magrutsche, Laguna Beach
The author is a multimedia artist and former Newport Beach cultural arts commissioner.