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San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Launched Public Phase of Capital Campaign in Support of National LGBTQ Center for the Arts

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San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Launched Public Phase of Capital Campaign in Support of National LGBTQ Center for the Arts

On the evening of Wednesday, January 15, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC) launched the public phase of its capital campaign to support the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts with a reception featuring remarks from Mayor London Breed, California State Senator Scott Wiener, Honorary Chair Sharon Stone, SFGMC Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig, Campaign Chair Edward Sell, and SFGMC Executive Director Chris Verdugo. The evening also featured performances from members of SFGMC, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company, Opera Parallèle, San Francisco Philharmonic, and Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, docent-led tours of the building, and more.

The three-year, $15 million campaign will secure and refurbish the new building and create a long-term financial foundation for SFGMC with a permanent endowment. To date, more than $9 million has been raised, with leadership gifts of $5 million from founding Chorus member Terrence Chan, $1 million from the Chorus Board of Directors, and $1 million from Zendesk Founder and CEO Mikkel Svane, along with $250,000 from the city of San Francisco and $500,000 from the state of California. The remaining $6 million will be raised through the generous support of individuals, foundations and businesses. Naming opportunities for iconic spaces within the new building include the auditorium, production studio, main lobby, second and third floor lobbies, conference rooms, offices, dressing rooms, the roof, and the building itself.

"Creating a space for the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts and a foundation for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will help ensure these important organizations can operate for generations to come. This new space with help inspire greater advocacy through art, which, given the current political environment at the federal level, is more important than ever before," said Mayor Breed. "I am glad the City was able to offer financial support for this space so that SFGMC has a permanent home here in San Francisco and can continue inspiring people across our city, country, and the world."

"As the Chorus has grown, our mission has evolved. Today the Chorus aspires to play a larger role, offering programming that serves the entire nation; our new home will be a laboratory for the creation and dissemination of LGBTQ arts programming. I am proud to lead this campaign as we look ahead to the needs of our community over the next 40 years," said Sell. "There are few organizations like SFGMC with the history and power to unite and transform, and there has never been a more critical need for the uplifting sounds and unifying messages of SFGMC."

"We live in a city that has been on the cutting edge of the LGBTQ movement every step of the way. Forging new territory is in our DNA. It is with this courageous pioneer spirit that the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus moves into an amazing four-story building and creates the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts. This new Arts Center will allow us to reach new levels of outreach and effectiveness," said Seelig. "In our transitory world, we all seek to find our tribe, community, and logical family. The search for home is even more challenging for members of the LGBTQ community. We intend to change that with our new building."

"The Arts Center will not only be SFGMC's home, it will be home to countless artists and arts organizations nationwide who often find it a challenge to merely exist, much less have a physical space. We will be a home for art and activism," said Verdugo. "As pioneers of the LGBTQ choral movement, we will inspire and challenge the next generation of leaders and creators to create art that not only keeps our stories alive but moves us all forward as one collective human community."

SFGMC purchased the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts in April 2019. Located at 170 Valencia Street in the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, the building is a four-floor historic property designed by architect Harold Stoner. It was completed in 1931 for the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal society that sought a space for convenings. From 1976 until 2018, the space was used as the city's center for the Bahá'í faith. The interior has more than 23,000 square feet, including a spacious lobby, auditorium, stage, dressing rooms, office space, multiple conference rooms, kitchens, and storage. The core components of the space are ideal for SFGMC though there are significant renovations needed to modernize the building and adapt its use for a performing arts organization.

Since its founding, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has been a leader in its field. With the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts, the Chorus is now planning to expand and enhance its leadership role by opening the building to composers, librettists, choreographers, and other performing artists as an incubator and workshop space for the creation of new works and collaborations; creating a new home for activists, artists, and arts leaders to meet, share experiences, and develop new projects to further enhance the LGBTQ arts field; hosting internships and trainings for LGBTQ arts managers; providing a venue for scholarly research of LGBTQ arts; collaborating with other gay choruses and community-based organizations to build RHYTHM (reaching youth through music) programs in their own communities; and creating media content that can be disseminated from the building's recording and broadcast studio.

Additional details about SFGMC's upcoming programming at the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts will be announced on January 21, 2020. For more information on the Capital Campaign, visit sfgmc.org/arts-center.



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