Tag Archives: art

Laguna Beach: A Rather Exquisite Economy of the Arts

“This is the first time we could quantify what the arts means to Laguna Beach,” said Nancy Beverage, chairwoman of the city’s Arts Commission. “It’s important so we don’t kill the goose that laid the egg.”

And what a mighty goose this is. The OC Register is reporting today that Laguna Beach leads the nation in money spent on the arts. People from across the nation and around the world come to Laguna Beach to enjoy the artistic spirit here. And nearly $55 million was pumped into Laguna Beach’s economy in 2005, thanks to its art scene. Art truly is the economic lifeblood of Laguna Beach.

So just how important is art in Laguna Beach? How is the art shaping the local economy? How is it shaping the city?

Follow me after the flip for more…

Laguna Beach has a long history of artistic creativity. Ever since Norman St. Claire first abandoned the San Francisco fog to document Laguna’s natural beauty on canvass in 1903, art has shaped and molded the community in Laguna Beach. In 1918, the town’s first gallery opened (now the Laguna Art Museum). When Laguna Beach became the first community in South Orange County to incorporate as a city in 1927, it did so as an artists’ colony that was already becoming world-renowned.

And in 1932, out of the economic disaster of the Great Depression, the Festival of Arts emerged. The artists in town were just looking for a way to capitalize off the Olympic games in nearby Los Angeles. Instead they started a great tradition, and a real cash cow for the now booming arts colony.

But in the 1960s, a group of hippie artists were getting frustrated with all the rigid tradition and conservative conformity of the Festival of Arts. In 1966, the young artists staged a revolt against the local art extablishment and their jury system that excluded so many talented local artists. They began their own art festival out of protest, and out of this protest the Sawdust Festival was born. And now, this is one of the top five art festivals in the nation.

Clearly, Laguna knows how to capitalize off its art. And the tradition goes on today. From The OC Register:

Today, the 9-square-mile city with about 7 miles of coastline has about 90 art galleries […]

The findings of the study will help provide the city and its residents with a substantial way to measure the value of Laguna Beach’s artistic community, said John Hoover, member of the board of directors for the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts.

According to the report, “Arts and Economic Prosperity III,” art-related spending in Laguna Beach contributes about $2.7 million in tax revenue to the state and about $2.4 million to the city.

In Laguna Beach, a person attending an artistic event spends an average of $55.41, according to the report. That is about twice the national average of $27.79 spent per person.

Most of the money spent in Laguna Beach pays for meals, lodging and souvenirs, the study said.

Wow, so the tradition continues. Laguna Beach has now made its art into a tourist magnet. Laguna is the ultimate destination for people who enjoy some aesthetic pleasure with their travel. But is all this commercial success killing the artistic spirit?

Is the artistic spirit dying in the midst of all the wealth, all the excess, and all the episodes of that MTV reality show? Is Laguna Beach starting to act too much like its snooty sister next door? Maybe Laguna has become too prosperous for its creative well-being?

No wonder why even the Chamber of Commerce President has called for more affordable housing for local artists and their galleries:

As the Laguna continues to grow and tourism thrives, the city must preserve its artistic community, [Mayor Toni] Iseman said.

As housing costs rise, the city should consider providing affordable housing to artists, some of whom are being priced out, said Dave Sanford, president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. Galleries also need affordable space.

“When the city decides where to invest money, they need to consider this,” Sanford said.

Yes, perhaps Laguna beach should ensure that the artists are not priced out of the arts colony. Perhaps as the city considers new development downtown, the city should ensure that these artists’ lofts are spaces that young local artists can actually afford. Laguna has been so wise in making a living off its art. The colony certainly cannot afford to ultimately allow past success to choke future artistic endeavors.

After all if the art is gone, then ultimately the economy is dead. And more importantly, the creative spirit dies as the art leaves. Laguna’s history of artistic passion and astounding success is just too precious to be lost forever.

Today’s Wild and Wonderful OC News Roundup

Here are today’s wild and wonderful Orange County stories that you just have to see to believe:

Confessions of a Westside Improver. Claudio Gallegos gets down to the bottom of neo-Nazi Martin Millard and his looming influence over Costa Mesa politics at Orange Juice.

Anaheim’s Disney Dilemma… Now in Court! The Plaintiff: Disney, who insists that housing in the resort district would not fit in with the hotels and tourist venues planned for the area. The Defendant: The City of Anaheim, who insists that the city has the right to determine what fits in the resort district… And now, residential developer SunCal wants to help pay Anaheim’s legal fees. Stay tuned as the Disney Dilemma erupts in court!

No Longer Lost in Translation. The City of Santa Ana is finally giving its 45% of primarily Spanish-speaking residents a chance to better participate in city council meetings by offering simultaneous translation of its City Council meetings in Spanish. Es muy bien, porque mas personas en Santa Ana pueden participar en los negocios de su ciudad. : )

And finally…

Curt. It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words… So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Mike Lawson’s one picture at The Liberal OC says more about the wild and crazy special election fallout than all of my updates combined. Way to go, Mike, you artistic genius. ; )

The REAL Laguna Beach: My Beloved California Dream

(OK, I FINALLY finished uploading all these photos! I hope you enjoy them! ; ) – promoted by atdleft)

Laguna Beach has always had a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is because Laguna is so unigue among the beach cities here. Or perhaps, it is all the natural beauty. Or perhaps, it is the flavor of the town itself. Or perhaps, it is all of this and more…

But what happens if all of this is lost? What happens if my beloved Laguna is lost as it gets sucked into the surreal circus of MTV? What happens if Laguna loses its own self and gets lost into the unreal “reality” of its neighbors?

This is why I wrote my letter to Laguna. Follow me after the flip to see more (including more photos!)…

My Darling Laguna,

I’ve always loved you. Ever since I was a small child, and my parents would take me to the tidepools at Moss Street Beach, I have been captivated by your sheer radiance. Ever since my first visit to Heisler Park, I have been awestruck by the near supernatural quality of your natural beauty. Ever since I began swimming at Treasure Island, I have been amazed by your sheer brilliance.

For some reason, I have always felt at ease within your borders. You have never ostracized me over my queerness. You have always let me explore my artistic side. And oh yes, you have always seemed to appreciate my inner “enviro-nut“. I guess since you are so eclectic and creative, you don’t mind me being the same way. Perhaps that’s why we’re so good together.

OK, so you have gone through some growing pains lately. We still don’t know if we can save your marvelous Boom Boom Room. We don’t know how you will adapt to being so famous, Yes, these best of times have also been the worst of times for you.

But you know what? I’m confident that you will survive… And thrive! Those other folks don’t know the real you like I do. They don’t understand that there’s more to you than just the glitz and glamour. You have a rugged side, and an artistic side. And I have seen them both. You have always delighted me in so many ways, and I don’t know what would ever happen if I were to lose you. I guess that’s why I have such hope that you will make it through these growing pains. You have gone through rough times before, yet you have always come out stronger than ever.

Yes, you will continue to be as wild and untamed as ever. And yes, you will continue to be as fabulously queer as ever. And yes, you will continue to be as artistically creative as ever. And yes, I will always love you.

After all, you are my sun-kissed California dream come true. I love you, Laguna.