America’s first National LGBTQ Center for the Arts will open in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Focusing on performances, public programs, and community partnerships, the Center will also serve as the first permanent home for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus since its inception more than 40 years ago.
“The new space will allow the organization to expand its performing calendar to include master classes, an interview series with leading LGBTQ voices and ‘sing-ins’ that welcome members of the community to perform with the Chorus,” says SFGMC board chair Keith Pepper.
Located at 170 Valencia Street, near the Castro neighborhood, the four-floor historic property was purchased for $9.6 million and will undergo significant renovations. A campaign to help cover these costs and a supporting endowment fund will be announced in the future.
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A home for the Chorus. A LGBTQ arts center for the country. We are thrilled to share news that we have purchased 170 Valencia Street to serve as the permanent home for SFGMC. After 40+ years in San Francisco, we are so excited to finally call this space “home.” Additionally, this space will become the first-ever National LGBTQ Center for the Arts in San Francisco. With a primary focus on performances, public programs, and community partnerships, the Center will provide a space to bring the arts community and SFGMC together. This would not be possible without the incredible generosity of Terrence Chan and his husband Edward Sell, who gave the initial leadership gift to make this dream a reality. We are so grateful for their support! ❤️ #gaychorus #lgbtqarts #lgbtq #lgbtq #lgbtqcommunity #lgbtqpride #lgbtqart #gaychoruses #galachorus #instagay #sfgmc
Founding SFGMC member Terrence Chan donated $5 million, the largest single gift in SFGMC history, toward the cost of the Center, which will house a cutting-edge media center and provide meeting space for community leaders. The SFGMC board has pledged an additional $1 million.
“I am particularly excited about the vision for a National LGBTQ Center for the Arts,” Chan says. “At this time in our nation’s history, it is vital that we in the LGBTQ community have a home for our art and artists. I am confident that great work will be created in our new home—work that will inspire, engage and educate.”
“We are so grateful to Terrence Chan and his life partner Edward Sell who will lead our campaign and our board of directors for their most generous support of this remarkable venture,” says Chris Verdugo, SFGMC executive director. “We look forward to working with and alongside other LGBTQ arts organizations while supporting them in their artistic and advocacy endeavors.”
“In my 30 years conducting LGBTQ choruses, none of us have had the ability to purchase a building that had multiple rehearsal spaces, a recording studio and the ability to provide space for the community,” adds Dr. Timothy Seelig, SFGMC’s artistic director. “Our new Center will be open to all. It is appropriate that the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, which started the LGBTQ choral movement 40 years ago, once again is leading the field.”
“As the former director of a non-profit arts and culture organization, I know how important it is that we offer inclusive, safe spaces for artists, performers and collaborators to create works of art that empower our communities,” says San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a statement. “I know the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will continue to support and serve the members of our LGBTQ community here in San Francisco with this new LGBTQ Center for the Arts.”
SFGMC, founded in 1978 as the first organization of its kind, has gone on to create local partnerships and expand its national presence through student and community programs such as the RHYTHM (Reaching Youth Through Music) workshop series and “It Gets Better” tour.
Responding to Trump’s election, SFGMC canceled its 40th anniversary international tour last year in favor of visiting red states and connecting with conservative voters.