The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has been an institution within the LGBTQ community since 1978. Now, like many organizations, it’s scrambling to shift its focus to virtual events.
Every year, the chorus holds a fundraising gala called Crescendo to support the group’s mission of music and activism. Executive Director Chris Verdugo said the event is going virtual this year.
“We don’t need a gala right now. What we need is to come together to sing to amplify the voices of our LGBTQ plus community, of our people of color communities, of Black queer artists, to host a conversation, you know, and create actionable items for the organizations and for our audience members on how we can continue to support Black lives. So it took a massive shift and one that we are incredibly proud of.”
The shift in focus and lack of revenue from live concerts has forced the chorus to lay off some of its paid staff. The chorus recently acquired a building on Valencia Street in the Mission to provide rehearsal and office space as part of a National LGBTQ Center for the Arts. Verdugo said the lockdown happened just as the chorus was launching new programs.
“We’ve had to make some really tough decisions around finances and sadly around, you know, some of our staff. We hope it’s short term. And we were trying to pivot to a virtual space with some of our resident companies who were starting, you know, to really have a presence at the art center, and bring them online with us to continue that relationship as well as showcase other LGBTQ artists and arts organizations until such a time where we’re able to come back into the facility together.”
He added, “I am grateful that we have donors and members who are rising to the occasion and continue to support the organization as well as, you know, the city and the state who have been so incredibly generous as well. We are getting ready for that moment when the doors open again, and we’re able to congregate and we’re able to sing to be able to bring San Francisco, and really our global audience, programming that we’ve been promising, but also the music that they have loved for over 40 years.”
Crescendo will take place Monday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. and is free to the public.