Lenore Naxon: Marrying Performance and Community

Aug 18 2015

By Lenore Naxon
President, California Presenters and NaxonConsulting.com

Marrying Performance and Community

After 20 years of raising funds, building a building and envisioning, running and booking a performing arts program at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, it is challenging to look back and say “what stands out for you?  Now that you’ve left, what was your favorite?”  We all know that is like asking a parent to choose among her children.  Of course, some things were more financially successful than others, many sold out to the walls and still others were artistic triumph, but nobody came.  We all have had that experience.  One highlight that truly stands out for me was fall 2013, when we presented the Garrett + Moulton Production of “A Show of Hands.” 

Garrett + Moulton Productions is a San Francisco based company co-directed by Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton. One of their specialties is site specific performance.  They came to me and wanted to present free performances in our public atrium.  Always wanting arts everywhere in our building and having them accessible to everyone, I grand jeted at the chance. It was successful beyond our wildest dreams. Over two weekends and six performances, hundreds of JCCSF-goers, from toddlers en route to their swim classes to basketballers, to preschoolers, senior lunch participants, coffee drinkers, wi-fi users and teen dance teams sat and stood on two levels with dance lovers, Garrett+Moulton supporters, critics and the curious many, to enjoy this 45 minute work with live music by composer Dan Becker featuring the Friction Quartet.

Audiences numbered between 250 and 600 per performance, each strategically scheduled to coincide with Center activities.  The show had exquisite visuals (see attached) and got a lot of critical attention at the outset.  The JCCSF’s virtual venue, 3200stories.com did a beautiful feature on the experience. http://www.3200stories.org/blog/post/inside-a-show-of-hands.

Did I mention that Janice, Charlie and Dan were organized, prepared and a joy to work with? As our business is challenged with growing notions of community, collaboration, thoughtful strategic partnerships, and accessibility, this project scored five stars on all counts. Certainly on my list of favorite memories of a long career at the JCCSF.