Recipient of the 2017 Achievement Award for Outstanding Arts Organization
The 18th Annual ArtsOC Awards took place this Tuesday, October 17 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens was the recipient of the 2017 Achievement Award for Outstanding Arts Organization. All of the Casa Romantica staff and Board of Trustees were in attendance, as well as the Volunteer Advisory Committee.
Executive Director Berenika Schmitz and Board of Trustees President Ruth DeNault accepted the award from ArtsOC Executive Director Rick Stein. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
“My late father always told me to be persistent – and today his words ring true.
“We love Casa Romantica – it is one of the most beautiful and special places in the world where people can explore arts and culture.
“The late Judy Swayne loved the Casa, and as Founding Member she helped build the foundation of support necessary to make institutions like the Casa thrive. Her legacy is continued with our Board of Trustees who’s leadership and philanthropy sustain us.
“I want to thank our Board, and our Board President and Founding Member Ruth DeNault – Ruth has been there from the beginning and has brought the Casa to where it is today.
“I want to thank my team for your persistence, passion, and commitment to excellence! Because of you, the Casa has gone from 90 to 900 members, from 2,000 to 4,000 children served, and from 12,000 visitors to almost 40,000 annual patrons.
“Thank you also to the Casa’s 120 volunteers whose smiling, and happy faces greet every visitor.
“This Award gives us renewed energy to continue our mission to be South Orange County’s premiere cultural center. Thank you.”
Casa Romantica has developed a reputation for bringing international talent to San Clemente, with wide-ranging artistic and educational programs that have brought talents such as Grammy-nominated musicians and Monterey Jazz Festival Headliners Gerald Clayton and Kyle Eastwood, multi-platinum selling lyricist Ann Hampton Callaway, and Broadway’s Les Miserables star Ivan Rutherford. It has made several new commissions in theater and dance: the first of their kind in Orange County.
Casa Romantica’s most recent visual arts commission for the institution, an immersive installation of 8,000 live blooms by the renowned British artist Rebecca Louise Law, received national editorial coverage in Sunset magazine, C magazine, Westways magazine, the Los Angeles Times and San Clemente Lifestyle Magazine, among others. The institution has also received critical praise for the intensive summer music and dance programs for under-served youth that she initiated beginning in 2015.
Our 2017 impact report revealed figures such as a staggering increase of 300% in general admissions and a 900% increase in membership over the past four years since Schmitz became Executive Director.