Readers’ Choice for Theater, Music and Museums

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The people have spoken. The Bay Area Reporter is pleased to announce the 2020 winners in the Arts and Culture categories of the Besties. These are the places that bring (in your opinion) the best intellectual entertainment the Bay Area has to offer.

Although the sites are closed for the moment (with a permanent closure), we congratulate all the winners, in absentia and in memorium.


LEFT: Contemporary Jewish Museum RIGHT: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Best Art Museum: Contemporary Jewish Museum
Finalist: SF MOMA
“Some people talk about diversity. Some people implement it. To my knowledge, the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco (CJM) has yet to issue any press releases on celebrating diversity or inclusion. instead, quietly and without fanfare, the small but imposing building of the on Mission Museum between 3rd and 4th Streets in downtown San Francisco has established itself as an open and welcoming place to all.
www.thecjm.org

Best Natural Science Museum: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
Finalist: California Academy of Sciences
“The Conservatory of Flowers is literally filled to the brim with flowers, foliage and plants from around the world, with a focus on tropical plants. Come visit the Conservatory today and dive into our five distinct galleries, each featuring the emphasis on showcasing a different ecosystem, ranging from a tropical rainforest to cloud forests perched on top of mountains.Once inside the conservatory you will engage all your senses, see a impressive range of colors and textures, smell the warm and humid air, smell intoxicating scents, taste the mist on your tongue, hear the trickle of falling water, a thunderclap in our rainforest or crickets then let the sun begin to set. ” – from the Conservatory’s website
conservatoiredesfleurs.org


Grace Cathedral

Best classical music venue:
Grace Cathedral

Finalist: Davies Symphony Hall
“Magical. Transcendent. Superb. Overwhelming. It made me cry. These are some of the words critics and audiences alike use to describe what it’s like to experience concerts and other performances at Grace Cathedral. . ” -Site of the cathedral

“The chance to hear music – gospel, classical, jazz or any other genre, in the magnificent Grace Cathedral should not be missed.” – Jim Harrington, Bay Area Music Critic
gracecathedral.org

Best Ballet Company: Position: Ballet
Finalist: San Francisco Ballet
“Every dance company should be lucky enough to have a Robert Dekkers at the helm. In just five years he has brought his Post: Ballet to the attention of the public looking for substantial summer dance dishes and caught their interest. profession, Post: Ballet doesn’t seem to know the meaning of poverty. ”-Allan Ulrich,“ Dekkers Making Waves With Post: Ballet, ”SF Gate, Friday August 15, 2014
www.postballet.org


San Francisco Lesbian / Gay Choir

Best Modern Dance Company:
Small seismic dance company

Finalist: ODC Dance
“The energy and creative urges that had been thwarted for ten years seemed to be released here. First, Katie Faulkner anchors herself in place, keeps her head turned to avoid the public gaze, robotically extends limbs, swivels aimlessly and squirms her shoulders so stubbornly that she seems ready to shed her skin.

“As the play progresses, you almost feel her opening up to the world. She slips into a fold, rolls on the floor, plays hopscotch, and finally lets her limbs float. Finally, Faulkner can face off. the public and its own demons. ” -Allan Ulrich, “Little Seismic Dance’s birthday gift to public”, SF Gate, Friday May 2017, 2016 www.littleseismicdance.org

Best Theater Company: Broadway SF
Finalist: American Conservatory Theater
Broadway SF owns and operates the Golden Gate and Orpheum theaters and is the premier theatrical entertainment company in San Francisco. BroadwaySF consistently delivers the ultimate theatrical experience in San Francisco, featuring new works, pre-Broadway productions, engagements at indefinite, and hits fresh off the Broadway stages. “- SFtravel.com
www.broadwaysf.com


San Francisco Lesbian / Gay Choir

Best choral group:
San Francisco Lesbian / Gay Choir

Finalist: San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
“The oldest self-identified LGBT mixed choir in the country, the Lesbian / Gay Chorus of San Francisco is dedicated to building and enriching the LGBT community through song and the love of music. ‘is performed around the world and hundreds of times in San Francisco. The choir has provided a forum for gay and lesbian music lovers in San Francisco to develop their talents, find good friends and share their gifts with the diverse communities of San Francisco .
www.lgcsf.org


LEFT: Slims RIGHT: The new parish

Best Live Music Venue: Slim’s
Finalist: Fox Theater Oakland
“For an entire generation, the 600-capacity Slim’s have played a crucial role in San Francisco’s nightlife. debuted at the club are superstars Sheryl Crow, Beck, Melissa Etheridge, Bruno Mars and No Doubt. Slim’s has also hosted big names like Pearl Jam, Snoop Dog, David Bowie, and the Foo Fighters playing for intimate audiences. “- Joel Selvin,” Slim is definitely closed after more than three decades in the heart of the SF music scene “, Joel Selvin, Agenda, March 20, 2020
Be careful, Slim’s has closed permanently. www.slimspresents.com

Best Intimate Live Music Venue: The New Parish
Finalist: Martuni’s
“This is my new favorite place for music. Why will you ask me? 1. Close to the musical artist. 2. Able to charge my phone secretly from the stage. 3. The bathrooms were clean and easily accessible. 4. Reserve handicap seats. 5. Large crowd. The Bay Area really shows up and comes out. “–Lauren S. Yelp review, November 9, 2019
www.thenewparish.com


The Cockettes anniversary show. photo: Gooch

Best Historical-Hysterical Event
We are honoring a unique show with a better special historical-hysterical event, because we can.

The Cockettes’ 50th anniversary, celebrated at the Victoria Theater on January 4, 2020, featured hours of numbers from original Cockettes musicals and other songs. Produced by Dan Karkoska, the sold-out crowd including John Waters, who gave a salutary speech. The surviving members of the Cockettes, including composer Scrumbly Koldewyn, were honored by Senator Scott Weiner, Supe. Rafael Mandelman and sanctified by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Unlike some of the Cockettes’ more chaotic early shows, the anniversary events combined queer history, musical theater, and fabulous, vibrant performers and costumes with aplomb. Well done, Cockettes!

Editor’s Note: If you liked this article, help our freelancers and staff, and keep the BAR going through these tough times. For more information, visit our IndieGoGo campaign.



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