Council Appoints New Arts Commissioner

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Newport Beach City Council selected a new member to the City Arts Commission this week following an unexpected vacancy earlier in the year.

Ritch LeGrand
— Photo submitted to the city of Newport Beach

Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to appoint Ritch LeGrand for the open seat.

The lone dissenting vote came from Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill, who voted for the only other applicant, Maureen Flanagan.

The Arts Commission position became available after former Commissioner Grace Divine resigned on Feb. 11. The term is not scheduled to expire until June 30, 2021.

LeGrand, who moved to Newport about four years ago from the Midwest, previously served as president of the Art Center Association of Sioux City, Iowa, from 2000 to 2003. His primary responsibility was to raise money to fund 50 percent of the annual budget for general operations, exhibitions and continued development of the permanent collection, LeGrand explained in his application.

“During my presidency, we created a highly successful public art project that raised significant money for the Art Center while increasing its visibility in the community,” he wrote.

LeGrand also served on the board of trustees for the State of Iowa Cultural Trust, which provided grants to qualified nonprofit arts and humanities organizations, accepted gifts, bequests and donations, and determined investment income, he noted in his application.

He was president and CEO of LeGrand & Company, Inc., a real estate appraisal, sales, and leasing business based out of Iowa, from 1976 until retiring in 2014.

After retirement, he and his wife made “the largest single donation of artworks in the history of the Sioux Art Center.”

He has a “life-long commitment to cultural arts,” LeGrand wrote.

LeGrand said he was excited to apply for the position, and while he may be a “newcomer” to Newport Beach he is now proud to call the city home. He has attended some arts events in the city and studied past Arts Commission meetings, agendas, and minutes, he explained.

“I now hope to be able to bring my passion for the arts to the Newport Beach City Arts Commission,” LeGrand wrote.

Flanagan said she likes living in Newport Beach and considers it her “forever home.” She works in banking and finance and has lived in the city for about 15 years, according to her application.

“I am interested in giving back to my community and keeping the historical beauty of Newport Bach preserved while supporting all the arts in the city,” Flanagan wrote.

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