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Arts Year In Review: Cultural highlights

December 27, 2012|By Rhea Mahbubani and Michael Miller
  • Acrylic artist Russell Jacques, left, speaks with a guest at his exhibit during Festival of Arts opening night party earlier this year. Organizers reported that with $9.4 million in gross revenue, they exceeded financial projections.
Acrylic artist Russell Jacques, left, speaks with a guest… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

With Orange County locals in the Olympics, contentious City Council elections and those Mitt and Barack guys who kept grabbing headlines, it was a busy year for news — and the arts proved to be no exception. We could try to order this into a conventional "top 10 stories" or some such thing, but since the arts are always playful and surprising, and sometimes impossible to classify, we'll approach our year-end roundup the same way. Here were some of the highlights on Laguna Beach's cultural scene in 2012:

Recipe for Success: The 2012 season of Festival of Arts, a longstanding Laguna Beach tradition, was a fiscal and creative success story. The festival's permanent collection was also bolstered with a Roy Ropp painting donated by Realtor Michael Gosselin.

"This was our most successful year ever," festival treasurer Anita Mangels said.

According to Scholarship Committee Chairwoman Pat Kollenda, $84,000 in scholarships, including 18 freshman awards — three in dance, two in film, five in music, three in theater, four in visual arts and one in writing — were awarded in the 2012-13 academic year. This represents a substantial hike from the $26,000 granted last year.

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Thirty-one returning recipients received scholarships, while life memberships were also given out.

Organizers also reported that with $9.4 million in gross revenue — 75% of which came from Pageant of the Masters ticket sales — the festival exceeded projections. The earnings were utilized on show production, art education programs, entertainers and ground enhancements.

"We are grateful to have the financial assets to do that," Mangels said. "But there is no better asset than our members, our board of directors, our staff and the volunteers."

Rising Star: Laguna Beach High School's rendition of "Into the Woods" received high praise at the 42nd annual Childress Music and Arts Commendation for Youth, a.k.a. M.A.C.Y. Awards. The show itself was honored with the Performance of the Day award, while Elan "E.J." Kramer, who played the Baker, walked away with a trophy for the Best Performance by an Actor.

The trophy was accompanied by a trip to New York City to participate in the National High School Musical Theater Awards, a weeklong competition at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre, which, as luck would have it, was scheduled to coincide with Kramer's high-school graduation.

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