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Commission hears updates on public art policy, economic report processes, approves concerts, film series


The Arts Commission had an interesting meeting this week with updates on a policy revision process, the ongoing work developing the arts economic report, approved lineups for upcoming concerts and film programs and a revised youth board schedule.

On Monday (Jan. 24), commissioners received a brief presentation about the progress so far in updating the Public Art Ordinance and Policy.

“Obviously this is very exciting to see that this is moving along and certainly something we need,” said Arts Commission Chair Adam Schwerner.

Policies regarding public art in Laguna Beach are currently under review for a much-needed update in an effort to fill in gaps and ambiguities in city code regarding public art, modernize regulations and better engage with the community. 

David Plettner-Saunders and Linda Flynn with Cultural Planning Group, the consulting firm tasked with reviewing and recommending updates to the policies, gave a presentation and asked for direction during a public art policy update workshop on December 7.

On Monday, Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl said she recently received a preliminary overview report from Plettner-Saunders and Flynn from their first site visit in early December, along with some questions about moving forward. 

“We are getting closer to their second site visit,” Poeschl said, “and a deep dive…into what would need to happen in order to make the required ordinance changes.”

They have not yet presented a concept or direction related to their eventual recommendation, Poeschl said, as they’re still finding their way and have a lot of questions. 

“It is an active project for the Cultural Arts Department and I would anticipate the need for more feedback,” and will likely return to the commission in the near future, she noted. 

They are proceeding forward and are on schedule, she added. 

Commissioners previously mentioned filling in gaps, shortfalls, or inconsistencies, updating the policy to include digital options, addressing deaccession and conducting a best practices nationwide review as priorities for the policy update. 

Commission hears updates Wave Dance art

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

“Wave Dance” by Marsh Scott is part of the Art in Public Places program

Also on Monday, the commission heard a brief update on the Arts and Economic Prosperity Report process. 

Commissioner Karen Wood explained that Ben Davidson, the senior director of research services for Americans for the Arts, reached out to staff seeking feedback from the city and various organizations.

They thought it would be wise to delay collection of information and putting together an economic report until later in the year due to COVID-19.

Wood and fellow commissioner Suzi Chauvel planned to go out and collect data late 2021, but that was pushed back and might happen in Spring. That would mean the report would be completed around June 2023, Wood explained. 

“We’re all in this boat together and it’s still floating along,” Wood said. “(We’re) judging it week by week to see what can be done.”

Commissioners also approved performers for this year’s Music in the Park concerts and an event in collaboration with the Festival of Arts.

As an alternative to Music in the Park in 2021, the city collaborated with the Festival of Arts in presenting four concerts on the Festival grounds last year, Poeshl explained. Both the subcommittee members and Festival officials have expressed an interest in continuing that partnership, she said.

“There seems to be a really wonderful opportunity in that the Festival is celebrating its 90th anniversary…on August 13,” Poeschl said. 

As part of the Festival celebrations, they are hosting a community event, she added, and the subcommittee recommended providing a live music performer for the landmark event. 

Continuing the collaboration with the Festival is a great idea, Chauvel said. 

“That’s just fabulous,” she said. 

Other Music in the Park summer 2022 performers and approved dates are: Party Foul (ska, rock, reggae) on July 10; The Great North Special (psych-rock, country-blues, and funk-soul originals and covers) on July 17; TBD performer on July 31; Stone Soul (Motown) on July 24; ABBA LA (disco) on August 7; Los Pinguos (Buenos Aires Latin rhythms) on August 14 and LA Sound Machine (Gloria Estefan tribute) on August 21.

The July 31 performer was not coming in on budget, Poeschl noted, so it will be replaced as staff confers with the subcommittee to fill the spot. It was initially intended to be Space Oddity (David Brighton’s tribute to Bowie).

Commissioners all agreed that the lineup of performers sounded good and unanimously approved the recommendations. 

Also on Monday, the commission approved minor revisions to the application for the Youth Art Advisory Board.

In 2020, the Arts Commission and City Council approved the establishment of a Youth Art Advisory Board. Board members will serve as youth ambassadors and provide input to the Arts Commission.

“I’m very excited about this program,” Chauvel said. 

The creation of the board was meant “to engage and expand opportunities for young community members (to participate) in the arts,” explained Arts Program Coordinator Michael McGregor. 

It’s going to be a lot of fun for both the kids and the commissioners, added Commissioner Michael Ervin. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, few applications were received and the program was postponed to 2022. The guidelines were updated to align with local school 2022 calendars, McGregor said. 

The commission unanimously approved the revisions.

The program is open to residents or students enrolled full-time in a college or school in Laguna Beach between the ages of 14 and 24.

Commission hears updates Music in the Park

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A previous Music in the Park concert

The commission also unanimously agreed to postpone the Friday Flicks programming until late fall. In the same motion, they approved the movie lineup for the event. 

Chauvel, who is on the subcommittee that reviewed the films and potential dates, said she doesn’t imagine a big attendance for the Spring dates due to COVID. It would be a better idea to wait until later in the Fall when there is better availability at the theater and, hopefully, better conditions in terms of COVID, she said. 

“These are all three very worthy films and it would be a shame to halt that,” Chauvel said. “It’s a series, if we start with one and then we have to drop [postpone] (the other films) because of the virus…I don’t think it’s going to be any great loss if we wait just a few months when it’s safe and people might really feel like coming to the movies then.”

The films would remain the same, only the screening dates will change, Chauvel confirmed. 

Approved films for Friday Flicks: Around the Block, a short film featuring David Zinn, which will be shown the same night as Street Piano: Instrument of Change, a feature documentary on street pianos; Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, a documentary about fashion legend Vivienne Westwood and The Painter and the Thief, a documentary about Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova developing an unlikely friendship with the man who stole two of her paintings.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.


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