SF School Board unanimously approves plan to move Asawa School of the Arts


(Bay City News Service) —The San Francisco board of education unanimously approved Jan. 14 a plan to create an arts education center near San Francisco’s City Hall where the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts would be relocated.

As part of the design for the site at 135 Van Ness Ave., the school, currently located at Portola Drive and O’Shaughnessy Boulevard, would relocate to be near the art district where Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, the San Francisco Ballet, the SFJazz Center and other art spaces are located.

The school is named for Ruth Asawa, a San Francisco painter and sculptor who died last summer

The arts center would offer programming in visual art, dance, vocal and instrumental music, drama, theatre technology and design, media arts and creative writing for students in grades K-12 and become a hub for the district’s Visual and Performing Arts program.

The board approved the plan that would also connect the Nourse Theater on Hayes Street with the arts center.

Music director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas spoke at the Board of Education and supported the creation of the arts center as an addition to the neighborhood, according to district officials.

SFJazz Center architect Mark Cavagnero has created design proposals for the center that would serve the roughly 55,000 students throughout the district.

According to the district, moving the school to the area has been in the pipeline for 15 years but has been stalled because of funding issues and construction challenges.

The site is owned by the school district and is currently used for administrative offices. It is projected to cost about $217 million to renovate into a school and arts center.

Although a timeline has not been made, the district is aiming to open the center and move the school within the next 10 years.

The district has already put aside $15 million for the project including bond funds and is looking into public-private partnerships.

The school’s campus at 555 Portola Drive would also be renovated and continue to serve as a school after the move, district officials said.

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