I reside just over the Laguna border in Dana Point, aka SoLa: South of Laguna, not to be confused with South Laguna. However, my work, my friends, my bookstore and hairstylist, and better places to eat, are in Laguna, so several times a week, I drive north on Pacific Coast Highway where the iconic sign welcomes me to the Home of the Pageant of the Masters. A similar sign greets drivers heading south from Crystal Cove.
Having just enjoyed another fabulous Laguna Music Festival at the Playhouse, and eagerly awaiting the fall season of Laguna Dance Festival, I wonder if we might reconsider the city’s identity. Yes, the Pageant and the Festival of Arts attract tourists each summer, but so does the Sawdust Festival and Art-a-Fair, and so do all the galleries all year long, and the music festival in spring and the dance festival in September, and the Playhouse most of the year.
Laguna Live brings us good music at least twice a month, at the museum or the Inn at Aliso Creek. The Laguna film and documentary series regularly hosts interesting and alternative filmmaking, and the My Hero project invites us to participate and view video projects by local filmmakers focusing on home-grown stars.
And what about the exhibits at Laguna College of Art and Design featuring some extraordinary young talent, or the six shows annually at the Gallery Q at the Susi Q Community Center displaying artwork by seniors, students and teachers that might otherwise never find display space?
There are more attractions of course, but you get the point. Seems to me Laguna is an attraction of festivals, large and small, and I wonder if the city understates its artistic presence by identifying itself with only one show, as unique and iconic as it is.
Heresy, I suppose, to suggest that Laguna reconsider its calling card, but I propose that City Council consider a new profile. Perhaps, welcome to Laguna Beach, home of the many festivals of arts. Or, home to artistic endeavors. Or, home to those with a passion for the arts. Or, home to travelers seeking the arts… what fun it might be to find the right words.
In the end, words and slogans are merely that. The message should represent the essence. The Pageant of the Masters is an astonishing experience and a great draw, but Laguna Beach is more the sum of all its parts. I would urge movers and shakers to reconsider the city’s identity, especially now as the village entrance moves back into the center ring. What will the sign say? More to the point, how will the village entrance represent the real Laguna Beach?
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered the city for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com. This column features Laguna businesses and business people.