According to an employee of Another Planet Entertainment, which now manages it, the continued furore over renovation plans for the Castro Theater is impacting the daily operations of the beloved movie palace.
At the September 1 meeting of the Castro Merchants Association, APE program director Margaret Casey told the group that it had had some cancellations due to the controversies, particularly around the proposed removal of raked seats from the theater. There has been significant public outcry over EPA plans to scrap the cinema’s current seating arrangement in favor of a tiered plan that would allow open spaces without seats for people to stand on during concerts.
Theater staff were also affected, Casey said.
Another major point of contention has been concern over APE’s commitment to LGBTQ programming, to which APE repeatedly says it is strongly committed. Ironically, it was an LGBTQ-focused event that was canceled.
While Casey, a direct ally, characterized HeadPrint House’s decision to cancel its “Our Night” event following pressure, event organizer Jessie Sunday, also a direct ally, said he it was more of a “kind of implicit pressure”.
“We received no direct pressure,” Sunday told the Bay Area Reporter.
Sunday is the events director for HeadPrint House, which focuses on programming of interest to the drag community, she said. That, in turn, is part of HeadPrint Studios, a Pacific Heights salon owned by Teddy Greene, which just opened its second location in the Castro. The organization has sponsored many other events, such as last year’s Holiday Artist Market and the Make Me Up Glam Class.
HeadPrint House is “an organization built on passion for the queer community, especially creators and artists,” it said on Sunday.
But still, the controversy was real, she added, and she heard many ‘Our Night’ attendees say they felt uncomfortable moving forward. with the program given how emotionally charged the issue has become within the LGBTQ community.
“The show we’ve created is fully cooked,” said Sunday, 39. “We have this cabaret show of all the local artists from the LGBTQ community: drag kings, drag queens, fashion designers.”
In addition, there was to be an exhibition and an art sale on the theater’s mezzanine. Proceeds from the event were to go to trans-focused programming in conjunction with the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, it said Sunday.
Not all performers and show attendees shared the same sentiment, but everyone “respected the choice and fully understood,” Sunday said. The APE town hall held in August only added to the heat. There, several hundred people showed up to express their dissatisfaction with the APE’s renovation plans, as BAR had previously reported.
“We’re just taking a break to give space to this politically charged climate,” Sunday said.
It wasn’t the first time the show was cancelled, however. An earlier attempt scheduled for July 14 was postponed when the child due on Sunday insisted on being born two months earlier, said Sunday, who already has a child. After discussions with Casey, the July show was moved to September 16, which is now canceled.
“Margaret has been fantastic in delivering that change,” said Sunday.
Production will finally happen, continued Sunday, and APE was “very excited about the show.”
Although, as the Castro Theater’s holiday lineup kicks in, followed by at least several months of renovations that will close the theater for much of 2023, it may take some time before “Our Night” finally makes it to the stage.
Other bands also canceled, Casey said. In one instance, Bears of San Francisco canceled a volunteer appreciation event, she said. After negotiations, BoSF and APE had agreed to a $1,000 fee that included just about everything, Casey said.
“We were going to lose some money, but that’s okay,” she said, but then “out of the blue” a third person from the group contacted her and said, ” no, no, we won’t.”
The incident left Casey wondering if the Bears were pulling out for similar reasons but, according to BoSF Chairman Erik Green, it was simply a decision that the venue was too big for their 30-40 event. people.
Another Planet “absolutely bent over backwards” to accommodate the band’s needs, said Green, who added that they’ve had a “great relationship” with the concert organizers, who are also sponsors of this year’s Bearrison Street Fair. year which takes place on October 15 in Harrison. Street in the South of Market district of San Francisco.
Impact on staff too
Casey, however, said the ongoing lawsuits have also begun to impact Castro Theater staff.
APE employees, especially the younger ones who tend to work as ushers and other positions that bring them into contact with the public, have been hardest hit by the controversy over the theater’s future.
“We found that people were really beating up ushers and event managers, pushing away young people who were just doing their jobs,” Casey said.
It has come to the point that many APE staff, who are assigned to events throughout the Bay Area, such as the Greek Theater in Berkeley, the Fox Theater in Oakland and the Independent in San Francisco, are asking to be reassigned from events to the Castro, she said.
Critics have also pushed hard for the APE to use LGBTQ personnel at Castro events, but that’s not a realistic demand, Casey said.
Although it estimates that about a third of APE’s staff are LGBTQ, the company does not make hiring decisions based on a person’s sexual orientation, she said.
“It’s a surprise,” Casey said. “Another Planet is used to being the good guy, so it’s been an unusual experience to stack up.”
Updated on 02/09/22: This article has been updated with information from the San Francisco Bears.
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