It’s happening. The world-renowned Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters will reopen this summer on July 5 and 7 respectively, with both festivals running through September 3.

How are the Festivals’ management teams planning and presenting this year’s events, considering last summer’s closings and new health guidelines?

These questions were posed to Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing/PR and Merchandising for the Festival, and to Diane Challis Davy, Director/Producer, Pageant of the Masters. Here are their answers.

(Pageant of the Masters)

IRVINE WEEKLY: How many artists will be exhibiting in this year’s Festival?

Sharbie Higuchi: The 2021 Fine Art Show will showcase the 120-plus artists who were juried into the 2020 art exhibit, but were unable to display their work last summer.

When did the FOA board decide to hold an exhibition this year?

The decision to move forward with plans and preparations to open both shows was approved by Festival officials during the organization’s board meeting on April 14.

What significant changes/modifications will there be this year due to the pandemic?

The health and well-being of the nonprofit’s patrons, artists, volunteers, vendors and staff remain a top priority for the Festival of Arts. The city has been incredibly supportive throughout this process in advising the Festival on health and safety protocols and making recommendations. We will continue to work to ensure a safe reopening in compliance with the latest government and public health guidelines. Please visit our Festival Reopening page.

Do Festival visitors need to make reservations in advance?

Tickets to the Fine Art Show may be purchased the day of your visit at the box office. We encourage advance ticket purchases for the Pageant of the Masters show, “Made in America: Trailblazing Artists and Their Stories.” For more information, visit our Pageant tickets page or call 800-487-3378.

Will the Festival have a fashion show this year?

The Fashion Show will not return this year.

Photo by Baldemar Fierro

Will there be art demonstrations and concerts this year?

The Fine Art Show will have art demonstrations, live music performances on select nights, with opportunities to meet the artists and more. Also returning is the Junior Art Exhibit, which is regarded as one of the highlights of the show. Since 1947, the exhibit not only showcases art from new generations of young Orange County students, but is a vivid testimonial to the value and importance of continuing arts education in our school systems.

Guests may reserve limited seats on Thursdays for the Art, Jazz, Wine + Chocolate series. Concerts on the Green will return on Saturday afternoons, and Saturday nights will feature tribute bands. Musical offerings will be showcased on Friday through Sundays. Interested people can reserve seating online.

Will there be art classes this year?                                                                   

At this time, a decision has not been made on having art classes or not. It will be dependent on COVID health and safety guidelines.

Will the restaurant, Terra Laguna Beach, adjacent to the Festival be open?

The restaurant will be open this summer. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 949-494-9650. Intermission by Terra (which replaced Gina’s) will be open for walk-up window ordering.

Media Night – Ron Azevedo

Will there be an opening night party?

At this time, a decision has not been made for a private (by invitation only) opening event for the Fine Art Show. Like past years, the Festival will have a private (by invitation only) VIP Night preview of the 2021 Pageant of the Masters production before opening to the public on July 7th.

The following answers were provided by Diane Challis Davy.

IRVINE WEEKLY: Was this year’s Pageant of The Masters show originally planned for 2020?

Diane Challis Davy: Yes! The 2021 Pageant of the Masters was planned for 2020 when the pandemic forced world-wide shutdowns of live performances and events. With the sudden halt in building the production in early 2020, the Pageant team is now up against the clock. In addition to building sets, many of the volunteers (especially children) have changed in size and growth over the last year, and need to be cast for different roles. Everyone involved is determined to do all we can to make sure our audiences experience thrills, amazing and inspirational stories, beautiful music and extraordinary living pictures under the stars.

(Pageant of the Masters)

How and why did you decide on this year’s show?

In 1976, Don Williamson introduced the idea of themed Pageants with a tribute to this nation’s bicentennial. Twenty years later in 1996, in my first production as director, a large portion of the show was devoted to American artists. Now, thanks to advances in digital imagery and video projection, I thought we should revisit the theme and bring to it not only many new artworks, but also a whole new arsenal of dramatic and immersive theatrical effects.

Will the performers be required to wear masks?

Backstage everyone will be required to wear masks, but cast members will not wear masks during the performance on stage.

Will the show include a parade, and will there be other performers such as singers and dancers?

We don’t want to give away too many surprises. What we can tease is that guests can prepare themselves for an inspirational adventure, a plot line from start to finish, and a moving look at American history through a collection of tributes to artists who made their mark in American art.

(Pageant of the Masters)

As the show will be outside, will spectators be required to wear masks?

The Festival of Arts anticipates that masks will be required, but will take guidance from local and state authorities as we get closer to and continue through the summer months.

Will Richard Doyle be the narrator again this year?

For his 10th season, Richard Doyle, the Pageant’s narrator, will be performing live every night from his booth at the back of the Irvine Bowl. He is looking forward to personalizing the lives of the artists included in the Pageant’s gallery of artists for whom America has proved to be so much more than just a backdrop.