After a three-year stalemate over rental fees, the Laguna Beach City Council and the Festival of Arts' operating board Wednesday signed a 15-year lease for the Irvine Bowl complex.
The City Council voted 5 to 0 Tuesday night to approve the new agreement for the six-acre, city-owned complex that is home of the annual Pageant of the Masters tableaux show and the Festival of Arts exhibition.
"We're glad it's all over," Mayor Neil Fitzpatrick said Wednesday at a lease-signing ceremony. "We believe this agreement is a good compromise for everyone."
This year's Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, to be held July 10 through Aug. 30, has an operating budget of $2.8 million. The "living art" spectacle, which will cost $732,000 to stage, has been a sellout for the past 20 summers in the 2,662-seat bowl.
Under the new lease, the city's annual rent will be cut from $417,800 last year to a projected $354,100 this year, festival board president John Rayment said. The rent is based on the city's share of gate, concession and subleasing gross revenues. Under the new lease agreement, the city's share is being cut from 17.5% to 13.75%.
The festival, however, now assumes responsibility for year-round maintenance and liability insurance coverage for the complex, Rayment said. This is expected to cost the festival an additional $40,000 a year. Previously, the festival was responsible only from May through August.
Under the new lease, the city is no longer required to distribute a specific amount of the rent revenues to arts-related organizations. The city uses $300,000 of the revenues each year to pay off redevelopment bonds for Main Beach.
When lease talks with the city were stalemated a year ago, festival officials warned that they might halt the summer shows in 1990--when the old lease was to expire--unless the city agreed to reduced rents. Festival officials argued that they needed more money for major revamping of the 33-year-old Irvine Bowl.
But Rayment said Wednesday that there are no immediate plans for a proposed $3-million renovation of bowl seating, stage and service areas, although the festival has $1.5 million in reserves for such long-range renovations.
The only project approved by the festival board is a new stage turntable and expansion of restroom facilities at a cost of $200,000, he said.
"Beyond that, we plan nothing until we have a chance to completely re-evaluate all possible (renovation) options," Rayment said.