AUG 17, 2020
While we’re still unsure how and when PianoFight will fully emerge from this pandemic, the uncertainty hasn’t stopped us from pursuing the crazy moonshot-ideas you’ve come to expect from a bunch of indie artists with all heart and blinding optimism.
To that end, we are proud to announce that PianoFight is the new operator of 1540 Broadway, formerly known as The Flight Deck, a 99-seat black-box theater with rehearsal and office space in the heart of downtown Oakland.
PianoFight Oakland is an expansion for us. PFO will continue to serve its current community of artists and non-profits including Ragged Wing Ensemble, who built and opened The Flight Deck in 2014, as well as Life Restoration Ministries, Awesome Orchestra, and Lower Bottom Playaz among others. And we’re keeping current Flight Deck staff in their jobs.
As we do in SF, PFO will provide infrastructure and support to a wide array of artists, producers, non-profits, and neighborhood organizations. That means artists can show up and plug in to a clean space with great technical capabilities, and a knowledgeable staff that handles technical operation, ticketing, marketing support, and customer service.
During the pandemic that means PianoFight’s venues in Oakland and San Francisco are currently available for rehearsals, photo or film shoots, and podcast recordings. With audio and video monitors, audio interfaces, microphones and lighting, both venues are ideal spots to run a class, record your podcast, or live stream your band. To reserve space, email Carolina Morones, PianoFight Oakland’s Booking Manager, at BookingOAK@pianofight.com or Duncan Wold, PianoFight SF’s Operations Director, at email@example.com for more information and rates.
So how did all this happen? When Ragged Wing announced in November 2019 that they would cease operating the space in April 2020, we put our names in the hat to take it over. Our biggest fear was that this gorgeous theater would turn into coworking space for start-ups. Nobody wants that. Not even start-ups. Then the coronavirus hit and shut down the economy and PianoFight in SF. The situation, to put it mildly, was bleak.
But then our community helped us raise $55,000 in the first week of the pandemic. That money, coupled with PPP and EIDL loans helped the SF venue get into hibernation. From there we secured transition funding for Oakland from the Hewlett, Rainin and Zellerbach Foundations. With SF tentatively safe, and transition funding in the bank, we signed a new lease in Oakland. We’re excited and grateful to have this opportunity to partner with Oakland artists to keep this creative space active and available to the community.
For anyone who doesn’t know, in SF we have a 92-seat theater, a 46-seat theater, a restaurant and bar with a music stage, as well as rehearsal and storage space. We work with individuals and groups to present comedy, music, plays, magic, drag, burlesque, game shows, film screenings, live podcasts and more, all from indie artists, most of whom are local. That adds up to about 1,200 shows for over 50,000 customers every year.
We also partner regularly with organizations like Code Tenderloin to host their job-training classes in our theaters; Swords to Plowshares to host their annual holiday dinner for homeless veterans; and Meals on Wheels SF to provide a staging ground for volunteers to put together meal kits and distribute them in the Tenderloin. We host GLIDE’s social justice film festival, and host community events for Safe Passage which chaperones kids on their way to and from school, and TNDC which provides below market housing to those who need it. Our plan is to similarly serve the community in Oakland.
We’re thrilled to take on this responsibility. We believe that by working with both Oakland and San Francisco’s creative communities, we can facilitate new collaborations, new friendships, and a consistently safe and professional experience for indie artists on both sides of the Bay.
Thanks for reading, and hope to see you at the theater again soon!