Laguna Beach Seniors, aka the Susi Q, selected as finalist for Patron of the Year by LBAA

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) has announced that Laguna Beach Seniors, aka the Susi Q, has been selected as one of the three finalists for Arts Patron of the Year. The winner will be announced at the 16th Annual Art Star Awards to be held on Friday, April 26, at the Festival of Arts grounds.

The Art Star Awards acknowledge individuals, businesses and organizations who have contributed during the past year to shape the arts and culture in Laguna Beach. LBAA members from 28 Laguna Beach Arts nonprofit organizations submitted nominations for awards in the following categories: Best Arts Program, Arts Patron of the Year, Best Arts Collaboration, Artist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

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Photo by Theresa Keegan

Gallery Q supports local upcoming and established artists

“I’m thrilled that the Susi Q is a finalist for the Art Star Award, and we are so grateful for the honor,” said Laguna Beach Seniors Executive Director Nadia Babayi. “I believe that Susi Q increasingly mirrors the creative spirit of our town, with Gallery Q leading the way along with our emphasis on the literary and musical arts.”

Gallery Q, dedicated to supporting local upcoming and established artists of all ages, is professionally managed by Art Director Bill Atkins, Arts Coordinator Judy Baker, and Carole Zavala, co-founder of Gallery Q, who chairs its Arts Advisory Council. They present five curated exhibitions each year, often in partnership with local arts organizations such as the Laguna Art Museum, Community Art Project and LOCA.

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Photo by Jeffrey Rovner

(L-R) Executive director of Susi Q Nadia Babayi, novelist Lisa See, moderator Marrie Stone, writing instructor Lynette Brasfield and Susi Q Program and Marketing Director Jo Ann Ekblad take a break during a sold-out “Evening with an Author” event in September 2023

As Babayi noted, beyond visual arts, musical and literary arts are also key to Susi Q’s dedication to the cultural life of Laguna Beach.

“Susi Q offers wonderful programs that focus on the literary and musical arts, from evening presentations by best-selling authors to opera events with Lyric Opera OC,” Babayi added. “It’s a joy to be part of the arts community here in Laguna Beach.”

Amy Dechary of Third Street Writers noted in her nomination letter, “In 2023, Laguna Beach Seniors launched [the Evening with an Author program] which has been a long-time dream of executive director Nadia Babayi. Supported by Third Street Writers and local volunteers and moderated by Stu News Arts columnist and fiction writer Marrie Stone, the series has been a sell-out favorite with attendees. Designed to bring nationally recognized fiction and nonfiction authors to Laguna Beach, the program features three author talks a year.

“This program has attracted book clubs and fans from all over the OC and SoCal. It represents the great work the Susi Q is doing to expand its programming into the arts as well as to connect with a broader audience.”

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Courtesy of Susi Q

In July 2023, Michael O’Halloran of Lyric Opera OC educated a Susi Q audience on the cultural influences affecting opera

And then there’s opera: Susi Q and Lyric Opera OC have teamed up to offer a series of free programs on opera, beginning with a look at the history of the art, and culminating in several – exceedingly rare – opportunities to sit in close proximity to talented pianists as well as opera singers in full throat.

Faye Baglin, who is on the board of the Laguna Beach Community Art Project [CAP], submitted the nomination. She collaborates with Gallery Q for one of its five annual exhibits. Her husband Wayne Baglin is on the board of directors of Laguna Beach Seniors.

“We know that our nomination was based on the impressive new art programs the (Susi Q) center has brought forth to the city in 2023,” Babayi said. “It is with great anticipation that we look forward to attending the LBAA event on April 26.”


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