Magic Theater Joins Tenderloin Arts & Education Community

July 25, 2016

Note to Self: If you can’t get promised arts district legislation passed or implement a local tax-capture finance district, get out of the way and let four brilliant women make magic happen.  In this case, the magic is the Magic Theater, which is coming to Turk Street as part of the 950 Market Street project.

This wonderful new addition to the Tenderloin’s local arts ecosystem was made possible by Loretta Greco, Magic Theater’s Artistic Director; Jaimie Mayer, Magic Theater’s interim Managing Director; Ellen Richard, former executive director at Magic and A.C.T., and Joy Ou, President of Group i and trustee at the venerable San Francisco Arts Institute and Global Heritage Fund.  After several years of a great TL arts and education coalition’s struggle for an arts presence at the site I can’t think of a more fitting name for our new neighbor than Magic. Group i and the Magic worked hard on crafting a community benefits program. The arts & eds groups are reuniting this week to celebrate the good news and welcome their soon-to-be new neighbor. 

The idea of 950 arts on the south side and a renovated 80 Turk Street – the new home of CounterPulse – directly across on the north side, was always thought of as a powerful way to draw lots of diverse people traffic to a long-devastated and particularly problematic block in the Tenderloin.  I’ve spent a lot of time on Turk Street over the past 7 years, have seen a lot of human misery and have listened to many stories.  Perhaps most memorable were tearful testimonies from Dalt Hotel residents about how difficult life on the block has been.  The people traffic 950 will bring, especially now with the addition of the Magic, will help the many who for years have felt trapped by fear and dread of walking out their front door.

Equally important, in my admittedly biased opinion, will be the powerful new addition to the built arts and education environment that our youth will know, feel at home in, be a part of, in their neighborhood.  Some day-trippers with a M – F, 9 – 5 understanding of the TL have difficulty appreciating what this means, but our youth and families who spend 24/7 in the ‘hood understand.

By the way, congratulations to all those who worked to make the Bayview Opera House possible. Fantastic.  It bears repeating: Developing bridge-building cultural resources in our neighborhoods is the ultimate creative placemaking.

But let’s not celebrate just yet. If you value the arts, and think the arts merit equal consideration as a valuable community benefit – a position that still comes under attack by those who see the arts as superfluous to the needs of poor people – then you should strongly consider signing-on as a supporter of the 950 project.

Please contact the Magic and Group i to support this important project.  For more information please contact Jessica Berg: jberg@bergdavis.com.