SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, an outdoor concert venue nestled in McLaren Park, re-opened today following a $1.45 million facelift that made it more comfortable and accessible for both performers and audience members, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department announced.
Mayor London Breed, Assemblymember David Chiu, Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton and Assessor-Recorder Joaquin Torres were among city officials who cut the ribbon on the renovated venue. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival followed on the stage, kicking off its 2021 Shakespeare in the Park season with Pericles, Prince of Tyre! The Festival will hold free performances at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater throughout September.
“I am so excited to be at the reopening of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater,” said Mayor Breed. “This venue has played such an important role in our city’s artistic culture and development, bringing live performances not only to this neighborhood but to all in San Francisco to enjoy. It is great to see the Amphitheater filled again with people having a good time right here in the heart of McLaren Park.”
The improvements were part of the 2018 McLaren Vision Plan, in which the community prioritized investments for their park. The project was funded through the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which San Francisco voters passed in 2012.
Renovation work included paving and expanding the area adjacent to the parking lot to allow better access for food trucks and portable toilets; upgrading ADA features such as handrails and benches, installing bike racks, replacing the drinking fountain and adding a dog bowl, and increasing storage capacity in the green room and under the stage.
“Seeing a concert or a play in a beautiful park setting is among life’s greatest joys,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “A modernized Jerry Garcia Amphitheater can support more artists and foster even more connection between neighbors.”
The work is part of a larger effort by community members to attract bigger acts to the Greek-style venue, which opened in 1971 and was re-named after the Grateful Dead frontman and Excelsior District native son Jerry Garcia after Garcia’s death in 1995.
For nearly two decades, the venue has been home to the annual Jerry Day to commemorate the singer and guitarist’s life, art and music under the production team of Tom Murphy and the Jerry Day Committee. It has also hosted Noise Pop’s Due South concert series, other musical and civic events, and school commencement ceremonies.
Among the venue’s key boosters are Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who has provided funding to support concert productions and movie nights, and community members who formed Friends of the Amp.
“As long-time champions of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, one of our goals has always been to find sustainable sources of funding so that performances by community artists and celebrations representing the rich ethnic diversity of San Francisco could continue to thrive at this venue,” said Linda Stark Litehiser, founder of Friends of the Amphitheater. “By widening the range of possible uses, these infrastructure improvements will move us closer toward this goal."
"Throughout the pandemic, organizations like San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and San Francisco Recreation and Parks have been ‘pivoting’ to creatively continue services to our community," said SF Shakes Resident Artist Carla Pantoja. "Like the character Pericles experiences, today is a joyful reunion."