Festival of Arts Prospers in 2012

Mike Gosselin, second from left, donates an original painting by the Festival of Arts’ founder. From left, Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy, board members Fred Sattler, Pat Kollenda, and Tom Lamb, who holds a photo of the founder with his painting in the background.

With Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts turning 81 next summer and revenue above projections  due to the success of “The Genius,” last year’s Pageant of the Masters production, the overall mood at the organization’s annual meeting on Wednesday was celebratory.

“Our finances are sounder than they have ever been,” said board member and treasurer Anita Mangels, showing a comparison of financial results by the city’s largest arts organization over five years on two charts.

In 2012, the festival generated $9.4 million in revenue and $1.1 million in income based on unaudited figures, lagging 2008’s peak when revenue topped $9.6 million and the organization generated $1.8 million in income. But last year’s results improved significantly over 2010’s low point, when revenue and income dipped to $8.9 million and $530,000 respectively.

Major Jane Egly, an ex-officio board member in attendance, declared the recession as finally receding.

Mangels credited 75 percent of the festival’s financial success to ticket sales for the tableaux vivant production and the rest to financial management, a dedicated cadre of volunteers and staff and art festival ticket and souvenir sales.

The 2013 Pageant produced by Dee Challis Davy and scripted by Dan Duling titled “The Big Picture,” should be a huge crowd pleaser. This time, the production combines, along with music and special effects, tableaux vivants from vintage movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and “Rear Window,” and tableaux from paintings that either inspired movie scenes or have been shown in film. Picture Thomas Gainsborough’s portraits as inspiration for Stanley Kubrick.

The evening’s drama rippled from a painting titled “Newport Fish Harbor” by Roy Ropp, the festival’s founder, donated to the Festival’s permanent collection by Laguna Beach resident Michael Gosselin.

In a circuitous twist of fate, the painting serves as the backdrop to one of the John Outerbridge photographs bestowed upon the Festival by the Laguna Art Museum in June. Outerbridge had been a Festival exhibitor in the 1950s.

Gosselin, who learned about the gift in the museum’s magazine, realized that he owned the painting depicted behind Ropp in the donated Outerbridge photograph and realized its value to the Festival.

“This donation holds a unique historic significance, as it links both the art show and the Pageant,” said board member Tom Lamb. “We can’t begin to thank Michael enough.”

About 150 festival members re-elected incumbent board members Tom Lamb, Pat Kollenda and Anita Mangels, who will serve another three-year term. Also in attendance were board member and City Council member-elect Steve Dichterow, Bob Moffett, David Perry and Ann Webster.

During the 2011-12 season the festival awarded roughly $85,000 to graduating Laguna High School seniors and students continuing in college “Nothing is more fun than talking about giving away money,” quipped Kollenda, chair of the festival’s scholarship committee.

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