Castro plazas' summer
events lineup expands
by Matthew S. Bajko
A Castro community group is expanding its summer entertainment lineup and is seeking Bay Area performers and vendors to fill the slots.
The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District won a $10,000 city grant for its "Live! In the Castro" program that hires local artists and musicians to perform in the gayborhood. The monthly Sunday entertainment offerings have enlivened Jane Warner Plaza during the summertime for years.
With the funding from the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the schedule of musicians, spoken word poets, and other artists will now stretch for nearly eight months with every-other-Sunday concerts and weekday offerings.
Not only will the CBD be able to once again program performances at the public parklet on 17th Street at Castro and Market streets, it will also do so across the street at Harvey Milk Plaza atop the Castro Muni station.
The CBD has brought musical acts to the plaza each summer since 2010. Selected performers have included Afro-Cuban band T Mambo, the Saddle Cats western swing band, and swing vocalist Belinda Blair.
The CBD has hired theme parks consultant Kile Ozier, a self-described "itinerant creative guy," to oversee the program and scout for appropriate acts. A press release about the program expansion promised "it's going to be a kickass summer in the 'Stro."
"We want these plazas to become destinations, touchpoints; places where people come just to see what's going on," stated CBD Executive Director Andrea Aiello. "After all, we are at one of the primary physical and cultural crossroads of this iconic city."
Ozier, 61, founded the annual AIDS benefit centered on the Oscar broadcast known as Academy of Friends back in the 1980s.
In 1990 he left San Francisco and bounced around the globe, with stints in New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Melbourne, Australia. His resume includes being creative director for Universal Studios in Florida to more recently opening a water park in Dubai.
He returned to town in April 2011 and will now use his talents honed from amusement parks to inject a bit of theatricality to the heart of the Castro.
"I want people to feel like there is spontaneous artistic activity going on every day or two" at the Castro plazas, Ozier told the B.A.R.
Auditions are starting "right away," he added. Those chosen will receive a stipend, though the amount has not been set. Last year the CBD paid $100 an hour per performer or up to $400 an hour per group for larger acts.
Interested performers and vendors with an idea for how to populate the plazas should email Ozier at mailto:Talent@CastroCBD.org. If possible, artists should include a reel of their work.