For 40 years the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has lacked a permanent home – until now. The Chorus’ new home is a four-floor historic property at 170 Valencia Street, near the Castro neighborhood where it all began.
The building will house rehearsal and office space, conference rooms, and community engagement spaces. Given that SFGMC is deeply rooted in community, it is a space that can bring the chorus and community together for events such as master classes, lectures, symposia, and sing-ins for the community to join the chorus.
The building was designed by architect Harold Stoner and completed in 1930 for the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal society that sought a space for convenings. A registered historic site, the building has a classic art deco façade showcasing scallops, scrolls and floral motifs quintessential to the time period. 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.
Performances and Public Programs
The 170 Valencia building allows for SFGMC to embark on never-before-possible programs providing more than a full-concert experience to audiences including:
An ongoing master class series
An interview series to hear from leading voices in the LBGTQ and musical communities
Sing-ins that bring together the community and the chorus in one room
A new virtual reality experience
A recording and production studio for creating member recordings, videos, performances, and other digital content
Community and Partnerships
SFGMC will remain deeply committed to the San Francisco area through partnerships and work in the schools, and will maintain a national lens as well. The robust onsite activity in the new building will be counterbalanced with these exuberant external programs:
Co-commissions with major San Francisco arts organizations
A continuation of the sing-out program with a focus on community engagement and milestone opportunities
A national outreach program, including the it gets better tour, a life-changing community residency and performance program produced by SFGMC in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and Speak Theater Arts
The expansion of the newly established program, RHYTHM (Reaching Youth Through Music), the fully immersive workshop series that brings SFGMC into Bay Area schools, inspiring students to live their most authentic lives through discussions about community, the sharing of personal stories, and music
A National LGBTQ Center for the Arts
Since its founding, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has been a leader in its field. The Chorus is now planning to expand and enhance its leadership role by creating the National LGBTQ Center for the Arts within the new building.
This dynamic new Center will focus on six major areas:
Collaboration with other gay choruses and community-based organizations.
Creating media content from a recording and broadcast studio in the new building.
Catalyst for LGBTQ performing arts and artists through the creation of new works and collaborations.
Convenings will include a space for activists, artists and arts leaders to meet, share experiences, and develop new projects to further enhance the field.
Internships and Training for LGBTQ arts managers.
Research into LGBTQ arts in collaboration with local universities.
Over the coming years, the Center will become a vibrant hub of LGBTQ arts activity serving the nation and advancing our field.