Cultural Relevance? People expressing dissatisfaction with the outdated cultural programming and leaving town for art events elsewhere are already one of the biggest findings in the draft of the latest Laguna cultural plan. What to do to prevent diminishing cultural relevance? How to hinder citizens to attend other-where or prevent local artists to show in cities where they have better exhibition opportunities than Laguna Beach? Art-focused cities like Santa Ana, Brea, Orange with Chapman University, Fullerton and Costa Mesa are all vying for an arts-interested audience. What steps can Laguna take to become a cultural hotbed again? First, get clarity about the arts.
How Important Is Art For Laguna Beach? What does Laguna Beach want to be known for to contribute to the world? This is the most important question to be answered to create an executable future vision/plan for the City. Without it, any future choices will be muddied and limit Laguna’s potential. To aligning citizens and stakeholders about the importance of art it is imperative to answer these questions.
What do artists want from the City?
What do galleries and festivals want from the City?
What do art educators and museums want from the City?
What does the City want from artists, galleries, festivals, art educators and museums?
Laguna Beach Needs To Establish First What It Wants To Be Citizens and Visitors.
a. Another Beach City with beautiful nature, water sports, recreation and art. Primarily, be an affluent community and tourist destination that has a lot to offer, but is not particularly culturally relevant.
b. A Beautiful Beach City with a specific kind of art-slant like “Laguna The Art Festival Town.” An affluent community and tourist destination that is known for the famous festivals it presents.
c. A Beach City Internationally known As California’s Art City. A city that offers new and established artists a way to express their creativity, from coffee shop to gallery to festival to beach. A yearlong cultural scene that is alive and interactive internationally, thereby creating an artistic imprint worldwide. (obviously, choice b and c does not exclude or diminish choice a)
d. Anyone has another Idea?
How The Evolving Of Artists Affects Laguna Beach’s Future: Since 2008, the only art related businesses that grew exponentially where art and music supply stores, accompanied by GoPro mini video cameras to capture it all. Technology and digitization allows to create very affordable and high quality products. There are not only more artists than ever out there, but through inventions of materials and technologies like 3D printers, more artists create more creative works. This trend is supported by intuitive usage, lower learning curves and available knowledge (140 million plus YouTube results of “how to art” videos.)
The Power Of Exposure: Even though the web is perfect to connect with one’s favorite art or artist, nothing beats connecting with art in person. What prevents great content to be exposed is venues are either too expensive, demand too many limitations, insurance and paperwork or are controlled by groups and organisations that decide by committee what art is and what not.
Make it easy for artists to express themselves in Laguna Beach. Open the City to international talent and all art. Instead of creating an additional international art festival, why not first open all existing festivals to international competition and keep them open all year long for different shows?
Vienna/Austria had the same curse with the classical arts as Laguna has with its history. Vienna opened up to support not only the classics but invited international art and artists. This decision raised the level of all local artisans. Vienna is today Europe’s art performance headquarter with hundreds of daily art experiences of all kind.
In 2015, I have been asked by Peter Blake of Peter Blake Gallery, Robert Holton of Drizzle Gallery, Michael Roy of LGOCA, and many others to look into the Laguna Beach Art Business and give them my assessment. Michaell Magrutsche is an Austrian-Californian multimedia artist, creative consultant, art educator and former Cultural Arts Commissioner of Newport Beach living in Laguna Beach.