Media Contacts:

For Performing Arts Workshop: Laurie Loftus

For Streetside Stories: Neela Benjamin

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.  (Aug. 21, 2018) Performing Arts Workshop, a San Francisco-based arts and youth development nonprofit, announces its acquisition of Streetside Stories, a fellow youth arts nonprofit organization. Following a six-year process of exploring various collaboration and consolidation scenarios, both boards voted unanimously in June to approve the Workshop’s acquisition of Streetside.

Streetside Stories is known for its research-based digital and multi-media storytelling program, which will continue as a program of Performing Arts Workshop. With Streetside’s media arts programs added to the Workshop’s dance, music, theater arts and poetry programming, more than 5,000 young people in the Bay Area will benefit from rigorous and culturally relevant arts education that helps them transform their experiences and perspectives into shareable stories.

Workshop executive director Emily Garvie weighs in on the context for the acquisition: “Performing Arts Workshop and Streetside Stories have common goals, values, and approaches. We’ve worked closely alongside one another for years. In a field in which  many mission-aligned organizations are competing for limited public and philanthropic resources and with cost of living and doing business in San Francisco continuing to spiral ever upward, we see acquisition as a proactive move that strengthens programs and sustainability.”

Frances Phillips, Program Officer for San Francisco-based Walter & Elise Haas Fund, a significant supporter of both organizations, echoes: “For years, funders have talked about the desirability of organizations combining forces, but few in my portfolio have done so over the years. I’m glad to see two organizations that I admire come together.”

Leadership of the two organizations began exploratory talks in 2012. With the support of two major arts and culture philanthropists — Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation — those talks led to the formal feasibility studies which seeded the ground for an acquisition process. With the acquisition, program and artistic staff as well as three of Streetside’s six board members are joining the Workshop’s board of directors and staff.

The Workshop welcomes Streetside Stories at an exciting time: in summer 2019, the Workshop will move into the newly-renovated Geneva Powerhouse and open its doors to the youth in the OMI/Excelsior and other nearby neighborhoods. The addition of Streetside Stories multimedia storytelling program will enhance the Workshop’s role in broadcasting the voices and stories of children and families in these neighborhoods, home to the most culturally vibrant and diverse communities in San Francisco today.

Says Rick Oculto, board president of Streetside Stories, We could not be in better hands: we’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Performing Arts Workshop cooperatively exploring best practices, collaborating on projects, and sharing our professional development opportunities. We are so excited for the future.”


Founded in 1965, Performing Arts Workshop was the first arts organization in San Francisco to work primarily with public schools, and particularly schools serving lower-income families, new immigrants, and children who would not otherwise have access to high-quality arts education. The organization’s founder, Gloria Unti, embraced every young person as a potential student of the arts, regardless of family resources, and opened access to them through a pioneering artist-in-residency model. Since 1965, the Workshop has helped upwards of 70,000 young people develop creative expression, critical thinking, and essential learning skills through dance, music, theater, and poetry.

Streetside Stories, founded in 1989, similarly cultivates the voices of young people by teaching them to write, illustrate, and share stories that honor their identities and personal experiences. Like the Workshop, Streetside Stories uses a residency model that helps teaching artists engage youth least likely to receive sustained arts instruction due to structural barriers and inequities. Both organizations offer their services at no cost to families; programs are funded through government and foundation grants and contracts, and through fundraising from individuals and corporate giving programs.