After five years of presenting new and experimental queer performance at SOMArts every first Tuesday of the month, The News ends with a final show on Tuesday, April 4. The brainchild of artist and curator Kolmel W Love, the monthly series brought in over 300 performers and guest curators during its run.
One easily assumes the worst: a series for queer artists, at a community-oriented non-profit in San Francisco -- in this rental market? But that’s not the case here. Attendance has been high, the rotating guest curator program (full disclosure, I was a guest curator in 2016) brought in dynamic programming, and both Love and SOMArts view the series as successful.
Love is concluding the series to reprioritize their own practice as a performer. As the main curator of The News, Love held a supportive role for each show start to finish, even working as event staff the night of shows. Returning to their own creative practice opens up the possibility of collaborating with others, in contrast to the curator’s facilitatory role.
From the start, enabling access for performers was Love’s goal. Love proposed their vision to SOMArts in 2012: a way to make it easy for artists to showcase new work, without the common obstacles of waiting for grant funding or relying on networking and pre-existing popularity. (In 2015, I spoke with Love about the origins of The News.) And it worked.
For many artists and curators, The News marked their first time on stage. For others, the series presented a safe way to stretch into new terrain. “We emphasized new as something bigger than a debut,” Love says. “It takes vulnerability on the performers’ and curators’ parts to take risks. I was continually amazed at how generous our audiences were to the acts.”