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Our Laguna:

Arts and taxes getting in ‘bed’ together

January 15, 2010|By Barbara Diamond

When Laguna’s Arts commissioners talk about Jack, they aren’t thinking cheeseburgers and curly fries.

“Jack” is the name of the sculpture newly installed in front of the bus depot on Broadway.

“I am thrilled to introduce this really important piece of art,” Commissioner Pat Kollenda said in her usual restrained fashion.

“Jack” is the creation of Tim Shockley, an exhibitor at the Festival of Arts. The bronze sculpture is part of the festival’s permanent collection and on loan to the city.

The bus depot is one of three sites at which festival loans from the collection are exhibited to the public.

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson dedicated the sculpture.

“Once again the Arts Commission has pulled off another arts program,” Person said before introducing Shockley.

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Shockley started by thanking the festival, the city and the commission.

“I am sharing this space with some great artists,” he said. “This piece represents a style of mine, a lot of my art is about whimsy.”

The installation was made possible by the Business Improvement District (BID), a voluntary addition to bed taxes by the city’s hoteliers to foster artists, art organizations and art projects that bring tourists to Laguna Beach and the city, Kollenda said.

Bed taxes are revenue the city does not share with the state, unlike property or sales taxes.

The hotels agreed to tack on another 2%, an agreement that must be renewed annually for arts-related funding.

As Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman has said, “This is voluntary. The hotels could unplug it at any time.”

Half of the assessment funds, an estimated $800,000 in fiscal year 2008-09, is allocated to the Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau, which promotes destination tourism through an award-winning marketing campaign.

The other half of the BID assessment is divided up between local art institutions, Arts Commission programs and community art organizations that burnish the city’s reputation as an art colony and are deemed attractive to tourists.

In the 2009-10 fiscal year, $160,000 each was allocated to the Laguna College of Art & Design, the Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Art Museum and Arts Commission programs. Another $160,000 was split among local arts organizations.

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