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LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (June 27, 2017) -- The Festival of Arts is about to unveil its first masterpiece of the summer.

Celebrating its 85th anniversary, the Festival will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, July 3 at 5:30 p.m., prior to its Artist Preview Party to show off its $11 million makeover. The exhibit space, art center and concert stage area that was built in 1964 has undergone a renovation that is breathtaking.

"We thought it was very important to position the Festival for another 85 years," said Festival of Arts president Fred Sattler. "And in the facility we had, that would not be feasible. So as a board, our challenge was to see to it that the Festival remained viable into the future, and we started with the facility. In addition, we think we’ve created spaces that the community can use to its advantage in the off-season in a way that the old facility couldn’t be used. It’s more of an outdoor event venue than it ever was before."

Even before the project began, BAUER Architects won a Citation Award from the American Institute of Architects' Orange County Chapter for its innovative concept that is an extension of the recently finished Festival facade.

The renovation includes additional and updated restrooms and wider pathways per the ADA (American Disabilities Act), and tensile roof pavilions that shelter artwork from sun and rain. The gift shop has been relocated and expanded, and the Junior Art Exhibit has a prominent location near the entrance. 

The project was approved by the Laguna Beach City Council in July of 2015, but was put on hold later that year because of the expected El Nino conditions. Once construction and renovation began a year later, the project came together.

Much of the project involved upgrades to infrastructure -- water, sewer and electric. But what visitors to the Festival will notice this summer is what was built above ground.

"This project has created beautiful spaces to exhibit art," Sattler said. "It’s gorgeous. Amazing. It’s airy, it’s light. We have beautiful spaces to exhibit the artwork, we have great space for musical entertainment, we’ve created and updated a beautiful space to do art demonstrations and our classes. We have a beautiful and health department-approved wine bar.

"Everything is today, with a beautiful contemporary feel and yet still true to an outdoor art show. We’re sun sheltered, we shelter the art from the elements, and yet still create a spacious area, with a lot of volume. The old art booths, I called those the carports. Well, now we’ve got 20-foot ceilings, light, they’re fabric. It's a beautiful way to exhibit the art, great ambient light, very soft. And you can still experience the outdoors.”