Festival of Arts Ticket Sales Stall, Prompting $2M Fundraising Campaign for Summer Programs

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 announced Tuesday that it’s looking to raise $2 million through ticket pre-sales and donations by May 30 to continue production of summer programs amid the ongoing economic fallout.

The coronavirus pandemic has stalled ticket sales creating “unprecedented financial uncertainty” about whether festival organizers should continue planning the Fine Art Exhibit and Pageant of the Masters, Festival President David Perry said in a statement.

“If the current depressed pace of sales continues, we expect there will be insufficient revenue to support production of our summer programs – all of which sustain a varied array of benefits to our patrons, volunteers, artists, summer employees, members and the local community,” Perry said.

Festival administrators are exploring other available financial relief, such as the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, festival spokesperson Sharbie Higuchi wrote in an email. The Festival is seeking donations and other funding with the understanding that government and health authorities could set guidelines that may not permit the Festival to open, Higuchi wrote.

Every summer for nearly 90 years, the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters has attracted families, artists, volunteers, and international visitors to Laguna Beach to celebrate the arts. Its Fine Arts Show supports 140 artists from Orange County, according to its website.

“Caring for the artists and the arts community during this time is at the forefront of every decision we make,” Higuchi wrote in an email.

The Festival is spotlighting individual artists on social media with its #MeetTheArtist initiative and featuring exhibitors’ work on its website.

Pageant ticket sales account for 85% of the Festival of Arts budget. The 2020 Pageant of the Masters’ theme “Made in America” is scheduled to be inspired by revolutionaries, innovators, dreamers from American history.

According to a 2012 study conducted by Americans for the Arts, Laguna Beach’s economy annually enjoys $27.7 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $21.4 million in event-related spending by their audiences. This spending supports 1,351 full-time equivalent jobs.

Artistic and cultural events also annually generate $4.6 million in local and state government revenue, according to the study.

“We’ve been a part of a SoCal tradition since the early 1930’s, and we are not prepared to throw down our paintbrushes without engaging in this outreach program,” Perry said in a statement.

Tickets to the Pageant of the Masters performance “Made in America” start at $20. A Pageant ticket is also a season pass to the Arts Fine Art Show, scheduled to run from July 8 to Sept. 3.

Besides helping with production of the pageant and fine art exhibit, donations will also fund the Festival’s support of working artists, art scholarships to college students, and arts education programs.

To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, follow the Festival at @FestivalPageant on social media and visit foapom.com.

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