After nearly four decades, the founder and longtime director of San Francisco-based City Arts & Lectures is retiring.
Since founding the non-profit organization in 1980, Sydney Goldstein brought an array of A-list public figures to Bay Area audiences -- initially at the College of Marin, then the Herbst Theatre, and in more recent times, the renovated Nourse Theater.
Roxane Gay, Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin, Tom Wolfe, Ta Nehisi-Coates and Edward Snowden are just a few names among the many to have appeared in San Francisco under the auspices of City Arts & Lectures over the years.
Goldstein also cultivated a roster of well-versed interviewers, including journalist Steven Winn and writer-publisher Dave Eggers.
One of Goldstein’s major achievements in recent years was the renovation of the 1,689-seat Nourse Theater in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. With an annual operating budget of $1.5 million, the organization produces around 60 events at the venue a year.
Earlier in her tenure, Goldstein developed an enduring partnership with KQED. The ongoing, co-produced City Arts radio broadcasts can be heard on nearly 120 stations around the country today.
"Sydney has very strong and definite opinions," says Nina Thorsen, the KQED producer responsible for repackaging City Arts events for broadcast since 1999. "She has the ability to jump into anybody's conversation about anything and ask good questions."
Longtime City Arts employees Holly Mulder-Wollan and Kate Goldstein-Breyer -- the latter being Sydney Goldstein’s daughter -- will be the organization's new co-directors. Goldstein will continue on as a consultant, mainly providing curatorial advice to the new leadership, Goldstein-Breyer says.
"The business is in a good place, and financially, things are healthy," Goldstein-Breyer says. "Sydney could feel good about handing things off to Holly and me."