Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

80 TURK ST, SF: Proposed Location

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The Gaiety stands at the gateway to the Tenderloin. It connects the Taylor Street Art Corridor to the Mid-Market Redevelopment Project; and stands along side notable neighbors such as The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, the EXIT Theatre, FarmerBrown, the Golden Gate Theater, the Community Benefit District, Showdogs, the Luggage Store, the Passion Cafe, and soon, CityPlace.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the Gaiety Project Floorplan and State of Use

Ground Floor:  3000 sqft; Theater, Box Office, Cafe, Gallery (ADA Compliant)
Upstairs:  3000 sqft; Studio Offices, Community Meeting Space, Kitchen, Gallery Annex
Downstairs:  3400sqft; Studio Offices, Workshops, Green Room, Community meeting Space, Gallery Annex

Ground Floor:  3000 sqft; Lobby Concesssion Stand, Box Office, Theater (ADA Compliant)
Upstairs:  3000 sqft; Offices
Downstairs:  3400sqft; Storage

Please note that rendering is NOT to scale. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

How are the Gaiety Project funds being used?

After securing funding for Phase I, the build out for the Fa├žade, the Ultimate Concessions Stand, and the Event Space, it will take six months of construction to open.  Upon securing funding for Phase II, the build out expands into the basement for the workshop, the costume shop, offices/studios, and a community meeting space.  Upon securing funding for Phase III, the build out expands onto the second floor for additional offices/studios and another community meeting space. 

How is the Gaiety Project model SELF-SUSTAINING?

The Gaiety Project has three major revenue streams:  1) Space Rental: Event, Office/Studio, Community Space; 2) Food and Beverage Sales: the Ultimate Concessions Stand and Cafe is a gourmet small plate, wine and beer bar; and 3) the Lost Art Sanctuary:  a grant/subsidy program allowing companies to pay full commercial rental rates to the theatre.

What are the LOST ARTS? And how is the Gaiety Project a SANCTUARY?

The Lost Arts are creative mediums ready for a renaissance—the circus arts, burlesque, puppetry, etc.  With the Gaiety Project subsidizing rents for companies that incorporate these arts into more accessible media, we provide a social platform to educate underrepresented artists and companies to become financially self-sustaining. 

Who is the team behind the GAIETY PROJECT?

Sean Owens, the Gaiety’s Artistic Director, is the resident playwright for the EXIT Theatre, named the city's Best Comic Playwright by the SF Weekly, and celebrates his 20th year as a playwright. 

Cameron Eng, the Gaiety’s Managing Director, has been a key developer, designer and producer for Impossible Productions at the Dark Room Theater, helping to turn it into a successful year-round venue for live theatre, performance art, and sketch comedy.

in the Central City EXTRA

Old porn house Gayety may be new live theater
by Marjorie Beggs, July 2010

Arts projects keep on rolling into the Tenderloin, raising hopes that they’ll help turn grit into cultural gold.

The latest is a proposal to launch a live performance venue at 80 Turk St., currently the Doll House, showing adult movies. According to TL historian Peter Field, it was built in 1922 as a storefront with lofts, not a theater, and also had stints as a gambling joint in the 1930s, a cafe in the ‘40s and a tavern, The Buccaneer, in the ‘50s. It became the Gayety Theatre in 1963, and in 2001 changed its name to the Gaiety.

Sean Owens and Cameron Eng, principals of the 2-year-old Foul Play Productions, announced their plans for the Gaiety Project at the June Tenderloin Futures Collaborative. 

“We want this be a sanctuary for the lost arts, like cabaret and circus arts,” said Eng. The 99-seat theater will present “family friendly performances with chic, classic, state-of-the-art technology”: a holographic sound system (3-D, spatial sound), programmable lighting, trapdoors, puppet stages and projection for films. It will even have circus weight points — structural points in the ceiling and walls strong enough to hold performers doing aerial, strap, hanging, and ring work. Eng says few small halls have the ceiling height to accommodate such weight.

A storefront cafe, lobby art gallery, basement and second floor offices and workshops also are part of the plan.

“We’ve been working on the Gaiety Project since January,” Eng said. “The project will be the managing nonprofit for the theater space, with Foul Play being just one of the resident companies.” Their hope is to draw other companies and new writers to the venture — what their prospectus calls “untapped media like the burgeoning burlesque and vaudeville revival that San Francisco has fostered.”

From the start, the Doll House site seemed a perfect fit for their project, Eng said, with its location just off Taylor Street along the city’s nascent arts corridor. “It will be part of the inviting gateway to the Tenderloin,” he said.

Owens and Eng also seem to be the right people to get the project off the ground. Owens, author of 35 plays ranging from musicals to noir mysteries, has worked in San Francisco theater for 20 years and is heavyweight EXIT Theatre’s playwright in residence. Eng, a performer in underground theater, has produced events and shows in the Bay Area for 12 years. He was key in turning The Dark Room theater in the Mission into a year-round venue for live shows and film. And he has the blessing of the Tenderloin’s diva of divas:

“Sean has been a part of EXIT Theatre since our beginning,” said Christina Augello, EXIT’s artistic director. ”He’s a talented, creative, generous artist and a good friend.

And I’ve followed his collaboration with Cameron and enjoyed many Foul Play productions. I’ve always seen our neighborhood as the downtown entertainment district, and the Gaiety Project would be a great addition.”

The Gaiety’s premiere is still a ways off. Owens and Eng are negotiating the lease with 80 Turk’s owner, Carlos Jimenez. He has agreed to upgrade the electrical and ventilation systems, Eng says. They have $50,000 committed for ground-floor build out but need another $100,000. The new nonprofit is applying for a grant from the city’s Cultural District Loan fund and will approach private foundations, too.

Meantime, Foul Play is in preproduction for “Left-Hand Darling,” described in promos as “a theatrical adventure.” A staged reading of the comedy at EXIT Theatre on July 16, 17, 23 and 24 will be a prep for a full performance next year, perhaps at the new Gaiety Theatre, if it’s ready.

This was the Future Collaborative’s second meeting after being “dark” for four months. It wasn’t quite standing room only, but 24 people came to hear about the Gaiety and four other projects, all important to the central city — the new mid-Market PAC, proposed Grant Building renovations, an update on housing plans for 220 Golden Gate Ave. (the old YMCA), and the new community garden at Larkin and Hyde.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Adult movies make way for old-time arts
By: John Upton, August 2, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Long-lost forms of family-focused entertainment are slated to replace adult-video screenings in a historic Tenderloin neighborhood building.

Theater professionals plan to convert the 88-year-old building at 80 Turk St. into a 99-seat venue featuring circus acts, burlesque, ventriloquism, juggling, puppetry and other performances popular in bygone eras.

Programming would emphasize entertainment, training and mentorship for Tenderloin youths.

“The goal is to bring back art forms and styles of storytelling that people haven’t seen in the past 50 or 100 years,” said Sean Owens, a San Francisco playwright and performer who’s working on the plan with business partner Cameron Eng.

Owens is the playwright-in-residence at the nearby Exit Theatre, which presents the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival.

The duo is working with The City on the plans and said the owner of the property has expressed interest in changing its use.

The proposed new venue would be named Gaiety, which also is the building’s name.

“We hope the Gaiety can find a space here and we have some resources to assist,” said Amy Cohen of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The stretch of Turk between Market and Taylor is a challenge and also a major opportunity given the access to transit at Powell Street and the proximity of the Warfield Theatre, the Golden Gate Theatre and the Exit Theatre.”

The current tenants of the Gaiety building — which has been used during the past century as a store, gambling hall, cafe and tavern — use it to screen pornographic films.

Venue makeover:
Breakdown of plans for Gaiety building:
Basement: Office space, workshop, costume shop, green room
Ground floor: 99-seat theater, concession stand, cafe
Upstairs: Meeting, office, rehearsal space
Source: Foul Play production company


For generations, San Francisco has been a nexus point for life-changing experiences. Artists have flocked to the Golden Gate to find kindred spirits and discover themselves. THE GAIETY will capitalize upon the Tenderloin’s place in history as a sanctuary from extinction in harsh economic times and will present a bold vision for the Tenderloin’s future.

We stand alongside those who re-envision the Tenderloin as the center for cultural stimulus and the wellspring of tomorrow’s art forms. THE GAIETY may well prove to be the birthplace of the new Vaudeville movement, may give rise to a fresh new generation of film-makers, may serve to reinvigorate the city’s deep roots in jazz or may even hold a legacy yet to be realized by future generations. It is our investment in the community and our dedication to recouping the loss of artists’ space suffered through the city’s Dot-Com crisis, which will allow THE GAIETY to prosper and the city to reclaim the Tenderloin as its artistic home.