SF Free Civic Theater - let's make sure it really is free

Chris Boettcher
Randall Museum Executive Director


  San Francisco residents are being asked to lobby you to keep the SF Free Civic Theater program going. As one of those residents, my feeling is that producing free community theater is a commendable endeavor, and I do encourage you to make the Randall Museum's facilities available for this purpose.

  However, the Rec & Park Department shouldn't have anything to do with the program! There is plenty of inexpensive theater in San Francisco happening without government agencies getting involved, and Rec & Park isn't doing such a hot job carrying out its core mission of keeping the city's parks, many of which could use some TLC, maintained. If they are putting any resources towards this program, it's not really "free" at all -- the taxpayers are footing the bill. And I'm sure those presumably unionized Rec/Park electricians, carpenters and laborers do not come cheap! (Read the last sentence of the following paragraph from the SFFCT's website, http://www.sffct.org/who.html):

"The San Francisco Free Civic Theatre is aSan Francisco Recreation and Park Department program by and for adults. We utilize existing City facilities, stock, equipment, support staff and venues to operate a producing repertory company. SFFCT produces 3 or 4 plays from September through May. All participants are volunteers committed to presenting all performances FREE of charge... As of June 22 we will rehearse in the auditorium at Eureka Valley and have full access to the room for performances. We are working on a plan to improve the auditorium. We will install permanent theatrical lighting and sound. We want to extend the stage by building a 6'x20' platform in front of it, coverting it to a thrust, and nearly doubling the current 11'x14' size. We intend to salvage stage curtains from another rec center and install them as masking along the ramp and over the windows. None of this will happen overnight but it is all doable and we'll get to it as soon as we can with the help of the Rec/Park electricians, carpenters and laborers."

  Bottom line: I urge you to tell SFFCT that you will *not* grant them access to the museum's theater unless they get their construction improvements done at no cost to the taxpayers, i.e. if any city employees are involved make sure it's on their own time and their own dime.

        ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild,

Very interesting project. I am just wondering *who* would pay for the Free Theater. Maybe fundraisers so those that are interested in contributing funds can do so? That along with all free labor from all participants? Obviously, those who are not interested should not be forced to contribute anything, via taxes or any other form of force.

Just a thought, because I seem to be always trying to focus clearly on WHO pays for services; or who will/can realistically pay for services. Be the service theater or health care.



  The "SF Free Civic Theater" is already happening, and has been for I believe several years. I went to one of their productions a year or two ago and found it so mediocre I left half way through. In fairness to them, there were a good number of folks there who seemed to be enjoying the show all right. I'm not sure whether or not they have any kind of Rec & Park budget, or other support. They claim it's run by volunteers, but the note I site below definitely makes it sound like they are planning to be incurring taxpayer-funded expenses.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild,

I see. Kind of sad. People do want the arts, judging by the success of "Shakespeare in the Park" or "Opera in the Park" or the unbelievable great performances at San Francisco State University produced entirely by students. But, all these wonderful events seem to be supported by Big Brother. Why, I am mulling on. Thanks for bringing up this subject.