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Bruce Rasner and Steve Brezzo

December 26, 2003

Laguna Beach residents didn't take kindly to the idea of the Pageant

of the Masters being taken other places, and the Festival of Arts

board president and executive director absorbed most of upset

residents' blows.

Now-former board president Bruce Rasner and former executive

director Steve Brezzo were subjects of angry letters to the editor

throughout the summer. Both were said to be out of touch with what

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the community wanted and too focused on money. Rasner's residence

outside the city and Brezzo's six-figure salary were two of the most

commonly mentioned topics among letter-writers.

The debate started just as the festival was beginning, when the

art community started hearing about the possibility of the Pageant of

the Masters being licensed and performed in other areas. Brezzo, who

was hired by the board to find new sources of revenue, brought the

licensing idea to the board and a potential client, International

Creative Management in Hollywood.

Rasner and other board members who supported the idea stressed

that they were agreeing only to discuss licensing the pageant, but

nothing had been decided. As backlash against the board grew, Rasner

said he couldn't understand how a community as enlightened as Laguna

Beach in so many ways could be so against listening to an idea.

Rasner and other board members who supported at least discussing

licensing said throughout the ordeal that too many people were being

heard who didn't know all of the facts.

Brezzo resigned about two months after the story broke, saying he

couldn't do the job he was hired for in a community that wouldn't

listen.

Rasner, whose term on the board was up at the end of the season,

ran again but came well short of being re-elected. His lengthy term

as an exhibiting artist and his leadership on the committee that

helped keep the festival from moving to San Clemente four years

earlier were his most oft-mentioned high points.

Festival members, however, elected the slate of David Young, Anita

Mangels and Carolyn Reynolds, a trio who vowed to stop talking about

licensing and give the festival more of a community feel.

-- Mike Swanson

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