Registration is open for “Diversity and the Creative Economy,” a symposium featuring international bestselling author and urbanist Richard Florida to be held on Monday, April 29, from 8 a.m. until noon at Montage Laguna Beach.
Presented by the Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Alliance, the event aims to provide a platform for community members, local businesses, civic, legislative, cultural and educational leaders to discuss how inclusion and creativity can foster economic mobility and prosperity in Orange County.
Florida, the keynote speaker, is a researcher and professor at University of Toronto, a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and a visiting fellow at Florida International University. He is also a senior editor for The Atlantic, where he co-founded the online publication CityLab, where he serves as editor-at-large. Florida is also an author and entrepreneur. “My research has long suggested that tolerance and openness are key drivers of economic growth. I’m thrilled to join the LGBTQ Alliance and talk about the region’s future for inclusive prosperity,” Florida said.
“Many people don’t know what we mean by ‘inclusive prosperity,’” said Chris Tebbutt, co-founder of Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Alliance. “We want people to understand. We want them to be inspired by what’s possible when our differences are truly respected and honored. We want our community to be excited about how taking specific actions can impact their bank accounts, from increased profits and home values, to stronger service industries and talent retention. We want to take the word ‘diversity’ from being an elusive catchword to being a prosperous future with clear benefits to the economics, social vitality and well-being for everyone.”
The event will feature live musical performances from students at the Orange County School of the Arts, remarks by U.S. Congressman Harley Rouda and Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen, and a panel discussion featuring Florida; Tebbutt; local developer Mo Honarkar, Laguna Beach Company’s chief executive; and Alex Rhodes, diversity and inclusion executive at Bank of America. Laguna Beach Company is Honarkar’s real estate investment and development firm, which is working on projects in town including the renovation of Hotel Laguna, the development of the 112-room Hotel Cleo, and the development of the arts district.
Tebbutt added that the event is intended as the launch of a longer-term initiative for the city of Laguna Beach to work with Florida and the Creative Class Group “toward a plan that will help heal our divide and move us toward prosperity for our all.”
“When people from diverse backgrounds live in Laguna, we want them to see themselves respected (at the very least), honored and welcomed; to see themselves reflected in public art, policies, celebrations, businesses, media and in school,” Tebbutt said. “There are so many subtle yet powerful ways we can show people that we love having them here in Laguna, that we want them to stay, that they are important to us, that they matter, that they belong.”
General admission is $125 and includes breakfast. Limited tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, visit DiversityAndTheCreativeEconomy.com, lagunabeachlgbtqalliance.org/tickets-sponsorship or contact Tebbutt at [email protected]
Event sponsors include: Laguna Beach Company, Bank of America, Compass Realty with Chris Tebbutt, Julie Laughton Design Build, Visit Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach School District, Siteline Productions, and Catmosphere Laguna. Additional support will come from Orange County School of the Arts, Laguna Beach Seniors, Laguna Beach Pride 365, City of Laguna Beach, Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Community Clinic and Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Tebbutt clarified that the event is not a fundraiser and ticket prices and sponsorships will cover costs only.
“Concerns raised about the irony of an expensive event about inclusivity are valid, but often misunderstood,” Tebbutt said. “Exclusivity is not our intent and wish this wasn’t the unfortunate paradox. However, it costs what it costs to produce an event of this caliber and importance.”
Tebbutt said if there are any proceeds left over, they will be donated directly to Laguna Beach Pride 365, Club Q Laguna at Laguna Beach Seniors, and The Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund.
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