MP+D Receives NEA/Art Works Grant for More Life: Preserving San Francisco Bay Area Theater Recordings

The Museum of Performance + Design received support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works grant program to support the digitization of some of its most at-risk live theater video recordings, documenting performances and workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1976 to 2001. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts. The project, called More Life: Preserving San Francisco Bay Area Theater Recordings, will allow MP+D to digitize 200 video tapes for long-term preservation as well as facilitate the cataloging of 175 recently acquired recordings for public access. Among the significant works to be preserved are the world premiere of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America at the Eureka Theatre; the 1977 production of Athol Fugard's Sizwe Banzi is Dead, starring a young Danny Glover; and several performances from various San Francisco Bay Area theatre companies such as the American Conservatory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Mime Troupe, and others. Information about these productions will be discoverable by the general public, students, and artists through the catalog entries available on MP+D's public online catalog and WorldCat, the global online database of library holdings. Newly digitized works will be accessible for viewing via on-site workstations in MP+D's Reading Room.

Program cover for the world premiere of Tony Kushner's  Angels in America  at the Eureka Theatre.

Program cover for the world premiere of Tony Kushner's Angels in America at the Eureka Theatre.

Program cover for Sam Beckett's  Waiting for Godot  at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Program cover for Sam Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.


On Wednesday July 18, 2018, 6:00pm-7:30pm, the Museum of Performance + Design will commemorate 50 years of San Francisco dance history with a FREE outreach party celebrating the launch of our new site, Captured Live: Fifty Years of Bay Area Dance Photography. The event will include a presentation of the website and remarks from some of the dancers and artists featured in the project. Light refreshments will be provided.

Captured Live was a year-long NEA-supported preservation / access project in which 2,500 images of local dancers, companies, and performances from the collections of photographers Katherine Kahrs, Chester Kessler, Henrietta McDowell, and Bob McLeod were digitized, cataloged, and uploaded online for public research, education, and enjoyment. Highlights include photos of rehearsals and performances featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ruth Beckford, Lew Christensen, Eiko + Koma, Margot Fonteyn, Anna Halprin, Welland Lathrop, John McFall, Rudolf Nureyev, Michael Smuin, Maria Tallchief, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Dance Spectrum, and stars of the San Francisco Ballet. The Henrietta McDowell, Chester Kessler, Bob McLeod, and Katherine Kahrs photographic collections are part of The Elyse Eng Dance Collection at the Museum of Performance + Design.

Click here for more information about the Launch Party.

For more information about NEA grant project, click here.


Henrietta (Henri) Deming McDowell was the official photographer for the San Francisco Ballet, documenting nearly every ballet performed in that period of time. Promotional materials and souvenir programs often featured her photographs. Her photography and articles about ballet and Lew Christensen appeared in numerous publications. The collection at MP+D includes negatives, mini positives, slides, loose and bound black and white and color prints of varying sizes, and personal papers consisting of news clippings, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, and awards. Noted dancers and choreographers featured in the collection include Lew Christensen, Michael Smuin, Carlos Carvajal, Robert Gladstein, Sally Bailey, Anita Paciotti, Tomm Ruud, Betsy Erickson, Val Caniparoli, and Jocelyn Vollmar. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.


Chester Kessler was a student of Minor White’s photography program at the California School of Fine Arts. During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, he photographed and documented performances of postmodern dancer Anna Halprin and San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop. His collection at MP+D contains approximately 1,500 photographs, negatives and transparencies of important dancers and dance companies in works choreographed by notables such as George Balanchine, Ruth Beckford, Carlos Carvajal, Lew Christensen, Anna Halprin, and Welland Lathrop. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.

Robert J. (Bob) McLeod was a San Francisco-based photographer. He worked for years at the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. McLeod was married to photographer Beth Witrogen, whose photographic work is also included in this collection. The collection at MP+D includes photographic prints, negatives, slides, programs, and press clippings from the Examiner and Chronicle featuring his work. Notable dancers and choreographers reflected in his collection include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ethan Stiefel, and Desmond Richardson, as well as several prominent dancers and choreographers who worked with companies such as San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.

Katherine Kahrs is a teacher, painter, and photographer. During the 1980s, Kahrs served as an official photographer for the Pacific Dance Center and the Palo Alto Dance Center, thus compiling an important visual record of their contributions to dance education. She also photographed performances by such groups as the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Eiko + Koma, Margaret Wingrove Dancers, the Sugano School of Ballet, the New Dance Co., Dancers' Repertory Theatre, the Golden Gate Ballet, Footwork, the San Francisco Jazz Dance Co., and the San Francisco Moving Co. Many individuals affiliated with these dance groups are also featured in the collection. The collection includes slides, negatives, photographic prints as well as programs and related promotional materials featuring Kahr's photography. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.

ARCHIVE LIVE 2018 | The Latin Quarter: Maclovia Ruiz and the Missing Beat - June 28, 2018

The first public workshop performance of The Latin Quarter: Maclovia Ruiz and the Missing Beat by Alejandro Murguía will take place on Thursday, June 28 at the new Brava Cabaret in San Francisco. Developed in collaboration with MP+D as part of its Archive Live series, this year's performance / installation is inspired by the career of dancer Maclovia Ruiz (1910-2005) and San Francisco's Latin Quarter.  

At one time pre-1950s the Latino community was based in North Beach and because of the numerous nightclubs in the area featuring top name Latino performers and Latin American bands, the neighborhood was known as The Latin Quarter, a center of bohemian art and culture. It was this bohemian ambience that would attract a new generation that would later be known as The Beats.

Out of that artistic milieu of the then barrio of North Beach would emerge Maclovia Ruiz, an exceptional dancer of Mexican origin who would eventually reach national and international acclaim and perform with such dance luminaries as Adolph Bolm of the Ballets Russes and San Francisco Opera Ballet, George Balanchine, and the great Spanish flamenco maestro Antonio Ruiz Solar. 

The performance / installation -- reminiscent of the 1950s -- will feature the career of Maclovia Ruiz with original material from MP+D's collection, as well as a narration by Murguía, recounting the history of Ruiz, the Latin Quarter and the missing beat of San Francisco.

For additional performance information, please CLICK HERE

Admission: Free. (Suggested donation $5+)

Seating is limited. To make a reservation, please call 415-741-3531.

ARCHIVE LIVE 2018 is funded by grants from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and Grants for the Arts.



2018 Arts Medallion Honoring Tony Taccone on March 26, 2018 at The Battery

The Board of the Museum of Performance + Design takes great pleasure in announcing that Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone will be presented with its 2018 San Francisco Arts Medallion for his outstanding leadership in the arts on Monday, March 26, 2018, 5:30pm-8:00pm, at The Battery in San Francisco.  The San Francisco Arts Medallion was created in 2005 by the Museum of Performance + Design (MP+D) to recognize those individuals whose leadership, action, and generosity have benefited the cultural life of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Click here to become a 2018 Arts Medallion Sponsor*

Click here to purchase a 2018 Arts Medallion Individual Ticket


In the 20 years Tony Taccone has served as the artistic director for Berkeley Rep, the company has presented more than 77 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 32 shows to New York, two to London, and one to Hong Kong. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, Taccone served as artistic director of Eureka Theatre. While at the Eureka, he commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America and co-directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. This year, Taccone will direct Berkeley Rep's production of Angels in America, which opens on April 17.  


"This year, the event will be an extraordinary convergence of the artistic and political and Tony Taccone’s brilliant touch on the culture of our time,” says MP+D Board President and Event Patron Chair Pattie Lawton. Honorary Chair Mark Leno will join us for the evening which will include tributes to Tony, displays of original material from MP+D’s collection including the iconic wings, designed by Sandra Woodall, from the original Eureka theatre production, and Tony in conversation with designer Ken Fulk.

Proceeds from the event benefit the preservation and educational programs at MP+D. For additional details including VIP level attendee benefits and costs, please click here. Please click here for the full press release. For more information, please call Kirsten Tanaka at 415-741-3531 or email

Past Arts Medallion Honorees include Stanlee Gatti (2005), Gordon Getty (2006), Diane B. Wilsey (2007), Mr & Mrs. George F. Jewett, Jr. (2008), Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. (2009), Nancy Hellman Bechtle (2010), Delia F. Ehrlich (2011), Roselyne C. Swig (2012), John Goldman (2013), Frederica von Stade (2015), Robert Mailer Anderson & Nion McEvoy (2016) and Carl & Yurie Pascarella (2017).


UNDERWRITERS: William S. Eddelman, Elyse Eng, Mary Lester, and Bruce and Fran Walker

BENEFACTORS: The John and Marcia Goldman Philanthropic Fund, Gretchen Kimball, Pattie Lawton, and Diane B. Wilsey

PATRONS: Jay Plano and Stephanie Tanaka.

Become a 2018 Arts Medallion Sponsor*

Purchase a 2018 Arts Medallion Individual Ticket

* Respond by 5:00 PM March 14, 2018 to ensure inclusion in the event program.