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Dark days for Theater Artaud. (News).

Last summer San Francisco's Theater Artaud, one of the city's preeminent dance venues, closed its doors. But not for long, if Project Artaud, the live/work collective that owns the space, has anything to say about it. "We are committed to Theater Artaud remaining a performance space," says Wendy Gilmore, a Project Artaud board member who also sits on its Interim Theater Committee. "Right now what we need is to buy some time to come up with a long-range plan."

Project Artaud, covering a full city block with its seventy-plus units, is one of the largest live/work spaces in the country. It was built as a tooling factory for the American Can Company in 1925. During World War II the 10,000-square-foot space, which eventually became Theater Artaud, was used to manufacture airplane parts.

For the first twelve years of its existence, Theater Artaud was administered by a committee from Project Artaud and became a focal point for a variety of local and visiting artists, among them Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti) who attracted an audience of some 5,000.

Under the direction, of Dean Beck-Stewart, Artaud became San Francisco's most important mid-size dance venue for both local and visiting dance companies. It attracted attention with its yearly "Men Dancing" series and several "Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century" festivals, which focused on contemporary choreography by African Americans.

In the last few years, with the appearance of other, more conveniently located venues and diminished arts funding, Artaud struggled to survive and finally had to go into bankruptcy--though Keith Hennessy's marvelously inventive Circo Zero managed to complete a highly successful three-week run in July.

As for the future, "we are trying to think outside the box," Gilmore says. "It might include a film series a couple of nights a week, or using the space for rehearsal during the day. Right now we need to recoup some of our losses." But dance audiences shouldn't despair. Project Artaud has acquired the theater's assets-lighting and sound systems, the seating, the dance floor--and plans to present dance again. "I am just as invested in this place staying a dance venue as many others are," says Gilmore.
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Title Annotation:San Francisco
Author:Felciano, Rita
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Nov 1, 2002
Words:367
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