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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

YBCA 100: Gathering the Very Best and Brightest From American Culture

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Jesse Friedman/Flickr
  • Anthony Myint

Many arts organizations dream of the type of programming you’ll find at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, but few pull off so successfully. But their constant stream of diverse events and exhibitions across virtually every platform ( not to mention their massive amount of community outreaches) aren’t by accident. Now in its second year, the organization compiles its YBCA 100, a list of individuals who have influenced not only YBCA, but contemporary culture, and who they predict will shape the future.

“It starts as a kind of internal process,” explains YBCA CEO, Deborah Cullinan, of the selection process for YBCA 100. “It’s really about asking everyone to tell us who are the creative minds and pioneers that are inspiring their work - not only at YBCA but their work in the world.”

After several more rounds of selections — first form individual staff members of Yerba Buena, then short lists from each department, to the final list of 100 — the process organically culls the best of the best. And as you can imagine from so many points of view, the diversity of the list is dramatic. Internationally acclaimed writer Junot Diaz is chosen alongside the likes of local modern dance choreographer Hope Mohr and comedian Doug Stanhope — few disciplines are left off of the list.

“In a lot of ways, it’s really about the questions that people are asking,” Cullinan says of the final product. “While we’re [building] this list, we’re really going deep on what kinds of questions these artists are asking. What are the driving questions? What are the questions that will result in great movement forward? [We want] to pursue artists who are losing sleep over these questions and share them with our community — and then use those questions to propel a much broader, much more inclusive conversation with many more people.”

The culmination of the entire YBCA 100 is a day-long forum touching on just about every aspect of the ever-changing facade of American culture. Panelists include Minister of Propaganda for Burning Man Will Chase, Founder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Erin McElroy, chef Anthony Myint, and poet Sonya Renee Taylor. Through these symposiums, YBCA hopes to initiate some sort of broader movement throughout the community, not only at YBCA, but throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.

“It’s sort of about the idea that an arts organization is like a creative ecosystem made up of all kinds of people who are really active and engaged in the broader creative ecosystem around them,” Cullinan says. “That process will feed not only what [YBCA is] curating and what kind of programming we’re putting together, but also what kind of community we’re gathering around.”

YBCA 100, Saturday, Oct. 10, 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, $25; 415-978-2700.

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Laura Jaye Cramer


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