The Brava Theater Center is planning a major renovation and expansion by the end of the year, and has just received a $200,000 grant from the Super Bowl 50 committee that brings it a step closer to reopening its long-shuttered storefronts along 24th Street.
“For the Super Bowl Committee to acknowledge … the impact that Brava was having on the community and to recognize Brava as a space that deserves to be supported and to remain in the Mission, and 24th Street corridor, was reaffirming to us,” said Brava’s Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe.
The theater’s storefront space along 24th Street has been boarded up for some eight years, and plans to refurbish and reopen it have been many years in the making. But the vision is clear now, and the theater has even pulled its construction permits – all that’s needed is the last of the funding.
A capital campaign has already drawn significant funds for the project, mostly from city grant programs, and with the Super Bowl contribution, the theater has now raised $900,000 of the roughly $1.1 million necessary to complete its renovation. Some $200,000 are still needed to completely fund the project.
“Hopefully some of that will come from the community,” said Kate Goldstein, the theater’s development manager. “We’re hoping neighbors will see that this is happening…We’re really about to enter a more public phase of this project since the construction is actually about to start.”
The planned reconstruction would create a cabaret theater space, which Goldstein hopes will be versatile enough to host performances, program meetings, and community events. It will also build out office spaces that allow each of the programs currently housed inside the theater’s cramped upstairs space to have their own work areas and add some green rooms for performers. A dance school called Cuicacalli, a youth drumming collective called Loco Bloco, an teen acting ensemble, a theater technology training program, and the planning committee for the Carnaval all call the Brava home.
“Brava is kind of bursting at the seams right now, it’s scheduled every day,” Goldstein said.
2016 also marks the building’s 90th birthday, the organization Brava’s 30th year, and its 20th year inside the theater on 24th Street.
“We really believe in the importance of the building being there,” said Cooper-Anifowoshe. “We’re old school San Francisco, we make no bones about that. We’ve been here a long time.”
Brava expects the construction to be completed by the end of 2016.
“We’re still kind of in shock because it was a long shot and there were only nine grants given,” said Cooper-Anifowoshe. “So we were hopeful, but, you know, we’ve been struggling, we’re a small struggling non-profit.”
The Gamechanger grant, which awards up to $250,000 to each of nine organizations in the Bay Area that offer services to youth, is part of a larger philanthropic effort by the Super Bowl, which is also donating $10,000 apiece to 50 “Playmakers.” Five of these are in the Mission – Loco Bloco, 826 Valencia, Mission Neighborhood Centers, and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. John O’Connell High also received $26,000 from the Super Bowl committee. San Francsico video production nonprofit BAYCAT produced a series of mini-documentary for the Super Bowl committee highlighting these beneficiaries – you can view them here.