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The Bay Area Mourns the Loss of Intersection for the Arts

05.23.14 | 1 Comment


CATEGORIES artistic home, arts service organizations, support the arts, theatrical ecosystem

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I’ll try.

But I don’t think I’ll do the organization justice.

One of the first times I went to see a Campo Santo play at Intersection for the Arts (for the uninitiated, Campo Santo is–now was–the resident theatre company at Intersection) it was in their old home over on 16th and Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District. The theatre was overflowing with people. Young, old, from all classes, from diverse backgrounds and cultures. There were so many people there that some of them even sat on the stairs.

Intersection was…is…was a beating artistic heart. A home to artists of all stripes–musicians, writers, visual artists and theatremakers–to its community and to the community’s youth. In the organization’s own words, it is a “community development organization that connects people and communities across physical, social, cultural, and economic boundaries to instigate change.”

Intersection lived up to its name.

For 49 years it has been a crossroads of artistic exploration, cultivation and collaboration. As I look at my Facebook feed I see so many artistic peers lamenting the announcement we received via email this afternoon. The announcement that Intersection for the Arts is in fact suspending its programs and laying off Visual Arts Program Director Kevin B. Chen, Outreach and Community Engagement Program Director Rebeka Rodriguez, and Theatre Program Director Sean San José, as well as all communications staff.

It is no exaggeration, the Bay Area arts community is reeling. What is Intersection without “for the Arts”? And for that matter, what is San Francisco and the Bay Area without the arts?

Because this announcement is part of a larger trend. As Bay Area rents triple and nonprofits (including artistic organizations) are pushed out of their spaces–along with the working class and artists–this city’s thriving cultural scene is no longer thriving, rather it feels more like it’s struggling to survive. Struggling, even though there is plenty of money flowing in this city.

And Intersection’s announcement feels like one more nail in the coffin.

I’ve failed.

I haven’t really conveyed to you all what this organization means to us out here. The indelible impact Intersection for the Arts has made in the lives of artists, in the lives of its community members.

If you could see the heartbreak I’m reading tonight. The heavy hearts.

We are devastated.

Marisela Treviño Orta

Playwright and poet Marisela Treviño Orta has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco.Marisela’s plays include: American Triage (commissioned by Marin Theatre Company, 2007 MTC Nu Werkz new play reading series, 2008 MTC workshop production, 2011 East LA Rep reading series, 2012 Repertorio Español Nuestras Voces Finalist); Heart Shaped Nebula (2011 Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwrights Showcase, 2011 Impact Theatre reading series, 2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist), The River Bride (2013 National Latino Playwriting Award co-winner);and Woman on Fire (2006 Primer Pasos: Un Festival de Latino Plays, 2007 full-length commission by the Latino Playwrights Initiative, 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival BASH, 2008 Playwrights Foundation’s Rough reading series, 2012 Teatro Luna Lunadas reading series).

Marisela is an alumna of the Playwrights Foundation’s Resident Playwright Initiative, a former member of Playground’s writers pool and a member of the Bay Area Latino Theatre Artists Network. Currently Marisela is working on two new plays: Wolf at the Door and Alcira.
  • Courtney Flores

    Campo Santo and Intersection have produced many plays, installations, programs and productions of and by people of all races and all walks of life. That was the driving force in what attracted me to work with them in the first place. Their audiences ALWAYS reflect the diversity that is the SF Bay Area. As I posted on Facebook: “Working and meeting with all of these wonderful people that came through the doors, gave me hope that there is a place in the world for artists of color to call their artistic home in the Bay Area. It gave me hope to see these artists flourish and spread out in the Bay Area Theatre scene as well as the Arts scene and develop their wonderful talents in the Bay Area.”


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