It has been interesting while being on the road with our Inspired by California film project visiting other art communities. We have seen several First Friday Art Walks, some of which consisted of only six venues, but were very well attended. One of the art communities that we visited that stands out in my mind is Laguna Beach.
We spent 3 days in Laguna Beach and met with one of their arts commissioners and many artists, while visiting studios, galleries and festivals. The reason Laguna Beach stands out as an interesting arts community is that, like Santa Cruz it is a coastal community with a large percentage of artists. Many of the artists we met made their full-time living as artists in part because of the support of the city through it’s development, support and promotion of opportunities for artists. Two such examples are the Festival of the Arts which was started in 1932 and the Sawdust Art Festival started in the 1960s. Between the two festivals that run for over two months each summer, there are well over 400 artists represented. The two festivals draw over 300,000 people each year from around the state. The artists spend several weeks in advance of the festivals creating their own booths and in most cases the artists will booth sit for those two months. The artists that we spoke to have participated for years and spoke of how important the support of their community was in helping them make a livelihood in Laguna Beach.
During the off season, we counted over 50 galleries that represent these same artists.