SF Gay Men's Chorus to open National LGBTQ Center for the Arts

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC) -- the country's longest-running chorus of its kind -- announced this week that it will open a National LGBTQ Center for the Arts in the Mission District. The permanent space will feature performances, interview series, master classes and more.

Located in the former Baha'i Center at 170 Valencia St. (between Market and Duboce), the center will double as the first-ever permanent home for the SFGMC since its 1978 founding.

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

Purchased for $9.6 million, the building will also feature a "cutting-edge media center," including a recording and production studio and a virtual reality experience, according to a press release.


The chorus' artistic director, Dr. Timothy Seelig, said that in the 30 years he's been with the group, "none of us have had the ability to purchase a building that had multiple rehearsal spaces ... and the ability to provide space for the community."

It's a welcome change, but the four-story building still needs to undergo significant renovations to modernize its infrastructure and bring it up to par as a performing arts space.

In the coming months, the SFGMC will launch a fundraising campaign to cover the costs. Terrence Chan, the CEO of a private real estate and capital portfolio management firm and a founding member of the chorus, has gifted $5 million toward the project, with the SFGMC Board pledging an additional $1 million.

"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," Chan said in a statement.

"Our new center will be open to all," Seelig said. "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."