Bayview Opera House, Inc., colloquially known as the Opera House, was founded in 1989 to run programs at our namesake building, now officially named the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. The building is San Francisco’s Landmark #8 and it was inducted into the National Register of Historic Buildings in 2011. The San Francisco Arts Commission had purchased and renovated the facility in the 1970s for use as a community cultural center, along with three other centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods. By the end of 1980, the commission came to the conclusion that it was best to have each center run by a local group to provide programming instead of the commission itself running programs. BVOH received its 501(c)3 status in 1992.
The Opera House provides opportunities to engage in the arts for a community with a long history of disinvestment, creates a sense of belonging and community ownership of the only significant cultural resource in the neighborhood, maintains inclusiveness of the traditional population despite sweeping gentrification, and provides opportunities for education and employment to community youth and artists.
The Opera House strives to nurture, educate and inspire the next generation of artists of color. The Opera House grows new informed audiences from the community and the greater Bay Area and creates spaces for artists to experiment, collaborate and learn from one another.
The Opera House employs the arts to support aspirational values, hope, and passion, and to inspire the self-confidence, excellence, and self-esteem needed to be successful, especially for our youth.
The Opera House anchors the Bayview Hunters Point community by acting as a homing beacon even for community members who have been displaced and no longer live in Bayview, providing a central location where the community comes together to enjoy culturally relevant art exhibits and performances, community festivals, and local artists get their first opportunities to perform.
The Opera House builds social cohesion through arts-based events that are reflective of the rich cultural heritage of the Bayview community that appeal to multiple generations and both traditional and new residents.
The Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre exists to appreciate Black arts and culture through the acknowledgment of our rich legacy and stewardship of our unique history while providing accessibility for artists and audiences to be activated through our transformative work that educates, inspires, and progresses excellence.