Performing Arts Venue PianoFight Closing Both Locations
Thanks to SF Gate for sharing the unfortunate news that PianoFight, which has performing arts venues in San Francisco and Oakland, is closing both of its locations.
PianoFight will shutter both SF and Oakland locations on March 18, 2023.
What began in 2007 with an unproduced play by a few young artists with no other option but to make it themselves, and grew from a two-man producing team into a prolific New Works by New Artists™ production house, and evolved into a Bay Area institution with venues in two cities, housing 4 stages, rehearsal studios, a restaurant, bar, office space and an art gallery, local company PianoFight will cease operations at 144 Taylor Street in San Francisco and 1540 Broadway in Oakland on Saturday, March 18, 2023. For a full schedule of remaining events including SF SketchFest, The SF Neo Futurists, Leela Improv, and many more please visit PianoFight and PianoFight Oakland.
“Of course it’s sad to close,” says Executive Director Dan Williams, “But we’re so grateful, and so proud of what we’ve been able to do.” Since opening in 2014, PianoFight’s SF location has hosted 6,702 performances (when all is said and done the number will be north of 6,800) and paid $1.3 million directly to Bay Area artists, sold 198,000 tickets and generated $25 million in local economic activity. “We’ve hosted comedy, plays, music, dance, drag, magic, burlesque, circus, podcasts, films, video game tournaments, and game shows,” Williams continues, “We said yes to everything because we could, we wanted to, and it was more fun than saying no.” PianoFight estimates that over 10,000 artists have tread its boards.
Since PianoFight Oakland opened in May 2020, it has been home to middle and high school students from Oakland School for the Arts, writing scenes and choreographing dance routines every school day, while artists such as Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Oakland’s Poet Laureate of 2022, and The Formerly Incarcerated People’s Performance Project staged new work in the evenings.
“PianoFight started because we thought there could be a different and fun way of doing things,” says Artistic Director Rob Ready. “We wanted to lower the barrier to entry so more people could perform; provide infrastructure so artists could focus on art; program eclectically to cross-pollinate creative mediums; and sell burgers and beers so artists could build their communities over a meal. We wanted all that to be sustainable and until COVID struck, it was.”
In less than four years at 144 Taylor St, PianoFight had hosted over 5,000 performances making it the most active live performance venue on the West Coast. Major partners included a who’s who of Bay Area indie artists, acts and festivals like SF SketchFest, Killing My Lobster, The SF Neo Futurists, Theatre Pub, Awesome Theater, the SF Improv Festival, the SF Frozen Film Festival, and Faultline Theater to name a few. Additionally, PianoFight has been an ardent community organizer in the Tenderloin and was proud to call the TL its home, partnering for years with groups like Code Tenderloin, The Transgender District, Swords to Ploughshares, TLCBD, and Safe Passage.
The pandemic, however, ground that forward momentum to a halt. “We designed the SF space to serve a diverse community of indie artists and adventurous audiences,” says Financial Director Kevin Fink. “And that community funded its creation, fueled our business, and kept us going during the pandemic.” In 2020 that community raised $100,000 to see PianoFight through the year, but the pandemic persisted.
Read more at PianoFight