Bayview Opera House, Inc. , colloquially known as the Opera House, was founded in 1989 to run programs at our namesake building, now officially named the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. The building is San Francisco’s Landmark #8 and it was inducted into the National Register of Historic Buildings in 2011. The San Francisco Arts Commission had purchased and renovated the facility in the 1970's for use as a community cultural center, along with three other centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods. By the end of 80's the commission came to the conclusion that it was best to have each center run by a local group to provide programming instead of the commission itself running programs. BVOH received its 501(c)3 status in 1992.
The Opera House provides opportunities to engage in the arts for a community with a long history of disinvestment, creates a sense of belonging and community ownership of the only significant cultural resource in the neighborhood, maintains inclusiveness of the traditional population despite sweeping gentrification, and provides opportunities for education and employment to community youth and artists.
The Opera House strives to nurture, educate and inspire the next generation of artists of color. The Opera House grows new informed audiences from the community and the greater Bay Area, and create spaces for artists to experiment, collaborate and learn from one another.
The Opera House employs the arts to support aspirational values, hope and passion, and to inspire the self-confidence, excellence and self-esteem needed to be successful, especially for our youth.
The Opera House anchors the Bayview Hunters Point community by acting as a homing beacon even for community members who have been displaced and no longer live in Bayview, providing a central location where the community comes together to enjoy culturally relevant art exhibits and performances, community festivals, and local artists get their first opportunities to perform.
The Opera House builds social cohesion through arts-based events that are reflective of the rich cultural heritage of the Bayview community that appeal to multiple generations and both traditional and new residents.
The Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre exists to appreciate Black arts and culture through the acknowledgment of our rich legacy and stewardship of our unique history while providing accessibility for artists and audiences to be activated through our transformative work that educates, inspires, and progresses excellence.
City of San Francisco Cultural Centers
The Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre is one of seven city-owned cultural centers operated by nonprofit arts organizations providing cultural and arts programs; four currently have physical buildings. The centers are venues for performances, festivals, and gallery exhibits and offer free or low cost classes. They are funded in part by the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The Bayview Opera House Board of Directors is a group of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time for the benefit of our organization, provide valuable vision for our programs and financial sustainability. They exercise financial oversight, help fundraise, make a meaningful annual donation to the organization and contribute their expertise.
BVOH is accepting applications for new board members. Board members are expected to actively participate in board meetings, join committees and task forces as needed, volunteer for and attend Opera House events and programs, donate to the organization and participate in fundraising efforts. To apply, please send your resume to the board secretary along with a letter stating your interest in the Bayview Opera House.
Stewardship of our 1888 historic building is an ongoing commitment. Most recently our building was painted in a beautiful contemporary color pattern. We are looking forward to renovating our food prep area this year.
Jacqueline "Jackie" Cohen, Vice President. Co-director 100% College Prep Institute's Parent Academy. She was recognized by San Francisco Foundation’s Koshland Civic Unity Program, providing her an opportunity to join seven other Fellows to invest $300,000 to improve the quality of life for Bayview residents.
Theo Ellington, Secretary. San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner, Formerly Director of Public Affairs for the Golden State Warriors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs from the University of San Francisco. Theo has served on the Redevelopment Successor Agency Commission for the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, following his service on the Youth and Southeast Facilities Commission and the Youth Commission.
Micah J. Fobbs, Member. Micah J. Fobbs, Secretary. Bayview business owner & community advocate and for over 23 years focused on local hiring. A former longtime resident & panelist for the Bayview Hunters Point Restorative Justice program, focused on local criminal justice reform. He has worked over a decade with the City of S.F. and OCII assisting the Mayor’s Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point’s Citizens Advisory Committee to disseminate information and provide a community platform for the redevelopment project. Micah is an avid art enthusiast and feels blessed to serve the community.
Vernon C. Grigg III, Member. Adjunct professor of law at Golden Gate University. Vernon is an independent law practitioner specializing in labor and employment. He is an active member of the State Bar, licensed in California since 1993. Vernon received his J.D. from Yale University.
Dee Hillman, President. A dynamic speaker who has captivated audiences and touched the lives of women with a message of empowerment over the past 20 years. Community leader recognized by national sororities, the City Club of San Francisco, California's Delinquency Prevention Program, and various California senators and legislators. Currently serves as the Marketing and Communications Director of Shekinah Christian Fellowship, a growing congregation in the heart of Bayview. Dee holds a BA in Mass Communications from California State University, East Bay and is happily married to Pastor Tyrone S. Hillman, Jr. while homeschooling their five children.
Jerald Joseph, Member. Senior VP of Sales & Property Mgt at Haight Street Realty/Finance Management (HSM). Jerald holds a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and Finance. Served as BVOH President from 2010-2017, a longtime Bayview resident and the President of the Board of LaSalle Heights Homeowners Association.
Thor Kaslofsky, Member. Principal, Kaslofsky & Associates. Formerly Hunters Point Shipyard Project Manager with the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. He received his MBA from New York’s Baruch College business school.
Aaron J. Pischke, Treasurer. Branch Manager at Bank of the West. Aaron previously worked in the financial services sector as a financial analyst. He lives in Bayview and enjoys making a difference in his community.
Clinton Sockwell II, Member. Youth and community activist. Mr. Sockwell is a regular school facilitator/consultant with the Community-Intentions Program, which delivers culturally responsive instruction to increase student achievement for historically underserved populations.