City Arts SF (Sydney Goldstein Theater)

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Since 1980, San Francisco-based non-profit City Arts & Lectures has offered unique programs with leading figures in arts and ideas. Each year there are more than fifty lectures and onstage conversations – and a few surprise performances, film tributes, and concerts – with outstanding writers, critics, scientists, performing artists, and cultural figures from around the world. City Arts & Lectures offers the broadest perspectives about ideas and values, the creative process, and how we think about the world we live in.

City Arts & Lectures events are held in the historic Sydney Goldstein Theater (formerly Nourse) in San Francisco’s Performing Arts Center. Programs can be heard via edited and delayed broadcasts on more than 130 public radio stations across the country. Radio broadcasts are co-produced with KQED 88.5 FM in San Francisco.

The Sydney Goldstein Theater (formerly the Nourse Theater) opened in 1926 as the auditorium for Commerce High School. Following the school’s closure in 1952, the auditorium found new life as a public performing arts venue. Allen Ginsburg, Jim Morrison, and the Pickle Family Circus, among others, took the stage. That interlude ended in 1985, when the space was repurposed as a makeshift courthouse for a major State Civil Court case on asbestos exposure. When City Arts & Lectures founder Sydney Goldstein first saw the theater in 2011, piled-high boxes of old papers, file cabinets, and dusty furniture filled every bit of usable floor, including a deck that covered much of the auditorium. There were no seats, no sound equipment, and no lighting. Driven and undeterred by skeptics, Sydney single-handedly oversaw the reclamation from start to finish, acting as chief fundraiser, public advocate, canny negotiator, and lead designer. No detail, from a superlative sound system to the color and comfort of the seats, escaped her attention.

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lecture, radio, theater

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