Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, Pageant of the Masters set for return in July

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A Pageant of the Masters production employee directs actors during the 2018 Pageant of the Masters. Courtesy of the Festival of the Arts

The Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and Pageant of the Masters will return in July after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of both events more than a year ago, organizers announced Thursday.

The decision to move forward with plans and preparations to open both shows in early July was approved by the Festival of Arts Board of Directors during its meeting Wednesday night.

“The Festival has been working closely with the Laguna Beach city staff and would like to thank them for all their input and help to aid us in reaching this decision,” Festival of Arts President David Perry said in a prepared statement. “We are thrilled to reconnect our community with live performances of the Pageant of the Masters and with our exhibiting artists this summer. It has been a very challenging year for everyone – especially the arts community – and we are overjoyed and feel blessed to have arrived at this moment.”

Tickets to the Pageant of the Masters’ production of Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories will be available to the public on May 3.

The health and well-being of patrons, artists, volunteers, vendors and staff remain a top priority, festival organizers said. The board and management team will continue working with public health agencies and city officials to implement new health protocols for the festival grounds.

“The Festival of Arts has always been and will continue to be a vibrant gathering space for visitors and community members to come together to appreciate the visual and performing arts. We are poised to safely re-open our doors and welcome Festival patrons as well as the many participating artists and community volunteers in re-establishing physical and emotional connections, which are a key component of our mission,” Perry said.

The Festival of Arts Fine Art Show will open on July 5 and welcome patrons daily through Sept. 3. The world-famous Pageant of the Masters will raise the curtain for its 2021 production of Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories on July 7. These “living pictures” will run until Sept. 3.

Like all of the art community, pageant cast and crew members were said that the arts were deemed non-essential during the pandemic, said Michelle Pohl, a pageant casting assistant and 14-year cast member.

“I think that’s not been good for the psyche for a lot of people,” she said. “When I tell people the pageant is coming back the response is good because people need this as part of their lives.”

The plan for this summer is to recall as many people as possible from the 2020 cast that didn’t get to perform, Pohl said. During her furlough over the past year, Pohl has been homeschooling her third-grade son. Both he and his older sister are set to return to their campuses for in-person classes on Monday, the same day Pohl was asked to report back to work at the festival grounds.

“It’s going to feel like coming home again,” she said. “It’s been strange taking that time off but it will be like seeing an old friend. You’ll pick up where you left off.”

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