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For a performance or just a look San Francisco's Herbst Theatre.

A no-win battle involving various cultural groups is being waged in the Veterans Building in San Francisco's Civic Center. At issue is the future of the opulent Herbst Theatre. You can see what is at stake during one of this month's tours or performances listed at right. Today's theater or tomorrow's art?

Remodeling Veterans Auditorium into Herbst Theatre six years ago seemed to ensure the future of the 915-seat hall. It has since become home to some 30 San Francisco groups--including Pocket Opera, The Ethnic Dance Festival, and Mid-summer Mozart--that last year helped establish an excellent occupancy record, with 195 performances.

But the Herbst's upstairs neighbor, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, sees another use for the hall. The space-starved, 15,000-member museum wants ground-floor gallery space and an entrnace off Van Ness Avenue. It proposes to gut the theater for exhibition space, with a 40-passenger elevator and stairs to its existing third- and fourth-floor quarters. In turn, the museum would support the creation of a new theater elsewhere.

Preservationists oppose the demolition, citing the historic significance of the signing of the United Nations Charter in the theater in 1945. Herbst is included on the N ational Register of Historic Places as an important component in the superb collection of Beaux-Arts buildings designed for San Francisco's Civic Center by architect Arthur Brown, Jr.

To register an opinion, write to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, Room 200, City Hall, San Francisco 94102, or the Trustees of the War Memorial, Room 110, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102. Tours and performances

Monday tours of the Performing Arts Center--including the Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, and the Herbst--depart from Davies Hall every half-hour between 10 and 2:30. Focus is on each building's historical, architectural, and acoustical aspects and on the art forms presented there.

Tour cost $3, $2 for seniors and students. Reserve through PAC Tours, Veterans Building, Suite 102, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102; (415) 552-8338.

Here's what is going on at Herbst this month (all numbers are area code 415):

April 1. Tahiti travel film, 2 P.M.; 347-3636. Kermit Moore, cello, 8 P.M.; 398-1324.

April 4. Susan Sontag, 8 P.M.; 392-4400.

April 6. Doris Lessing, 8 P.M. (sold out).

April 7. Snow White (children's opera), 2:30 P.M.; 386-9622. Doris Lessing, 8 P.M. (sold out).

April 11. Pauline Kael, 8 P.M.; 392-4400.

April 12. Elly Ameling, soprano, 8 P.M.; 864-3330.

April 13. The Abduction from the Seraglio, 8 P.M. For free tickets, send stamped, self-addressed envelope to Show case Tickets, S.F. Opera Center, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco 94102.

April 14. Tamas Vasary, piano, and Uto Ughi, violin, 7:30 P.M.; 398-1324.

April 15. Daniel Heifetz, violin, 5:30 P.M.; 392-4400.

April 17 and 21. The abduction from the Seraglio, 8 P.M. (see April 13).

April 27 and 28. The Boor and The Loves of Don Perlimplin, 8 P.M.; see April 13.

April 29. New Zealand travel film, 2 P.M.; 347-3636.
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Date:Apr 1, 1984
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