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Art Festival Members Seek to Keep Show in Laguna Beach

September 07, 2000

LAGUNA BEACH — Festival of Arts members took another step toward trying to keep the summer venue in Laguna Beach, its home for 68 years.

Festival members voted overwhelmingly to hold an election by mail that will ask all voting members if they want to require a two-thirds majority to approve any move out of the city.

Of the 423 members who cast ballots on festival grounds in Laguna Beach, 87% voted yes and 13% voted no. There are about 2,700 voting festival members.

Although a date for the election has not been set, ballots will be sent out within about 60 days.

"The results don't surprise me because it was held in Laguna Beach," said festival President Sherri M. Butterfield, who is also mayor of Mission Viejo. "I think the countywide vote would be different. I've had phone calls from all over that the board is doing the right thing."

The board signed a tentative nonbinding lease agreement with San Clemente last month to relocate the festival.

Festival members now have no voting power in board decisions regarding a relocation, but are hopeful that the next vote by mail will change that.

"I'm furious that a skeleton board could hijack this festival and all its expertise," said exhibitor David Milton.

"Laguna Beach is the only place it belongs. None of us moved here to drive to a booth in San Clemente."

Along with the upcoming two-thirds majority issue, a recall election of the festival board, sparked by exhibitors opposed to a move, is expected to be scheduled this month.

Laguna Beach officials and the festival board have unsuccessfully tried for years to negotiate a new lease. The current one expires in September 2001.

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