SF gay chorus buys building, plans national LGBTQ arts center

  • by Cynthia Laird
  • Thursday January 17, 2019
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The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has purchased this building, which will become a national LGBTQ arts center. Photo: Jeff Zaruba
The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has purchased this building, which will become a national LGBTQ arts center. Photo: Jeff Zaruba

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus announced Thursday that it has purchased a building and plans a national LGBTQ center for the arts.

The center, when it's completed, will allow the chorus to have specific programs dedicated to performances and will mark the first permanent home for the singing group.

The building, located at 170 Valencia Street, was purchased for $9.6 million, according to a January 17 news release from the chorus. It was the chorus' longtime rehearsal space. The building will house a cutting-edge media center, provide a creative space for LGBTQ artists, serve as a meeting location for community groups, and host trainings and internship programs.

"In its 40-year history, the chorus has performed at the world's most prestigious venues, but we have never had our own home," board Chair Keith Pepper said in the release. "This new space will allow the organization to expand its performing calendar to include master classes, an interview series with LGBTQ voices, and 'sing-ins' that welcome members of the community to perform with the chorus."

The chorus plans to soon announce a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the purchase, renovations, and a supporting endowment fund. Founding chorus member Terrence Chan has made a leadership gift of $5 million toward the cost of buying and renovating the space, the organization said. Additionally, the chorus' board has pledged an additional $1 million.

Chris Verdugo, executive director of the chorus, stated, "We are so grateful to Terrence Chan and his life partner, Edward Sell, who will lead our campaign, and our board of directors for their most generous support of this remarkable venture. We look forward to working with, and alongside, other LGBTQ arts organizations while supporting them in their artistic and advocacy endeavors."

In the release, Chan said he was excited about the vision for the national center.

"At this time in our nation's history, it is vital that we in the LGBTQ community have a home for our art and artists," he stated. "I am confident that great work will be created in our new home — work that will inspire, engage, and educate."

Tim Seelig, artistic director of the chorus, said that in his 30 years of conducting LGBTQ choruses, "none of us have had the ability to purchase a building that had multiple rehearsal spaces, a recording studio, and the ability to provide space for the community."

"Our new center will be open to all," he added. "It is appropriate that the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, which started the LGBTQ choral movement 40 years ago, once again is leading the field."

For more information on the chorus, visit https://www.sfgmc.org/.

Contact the reporter at [email protected].