Sydney Goldstein, the founder of esteemed conversation series City Arts & Lectures, died Tuesday, Sept. 25 in Los Angeles, her daughter Kate Goldstein-Breyer confirmed. She was 73.
The San Francisco native launched City Arts & Lectures in 1980 and oversaw programming, which involved pairing guests such as Ta Nehisi-Coates and Edward Snowden with interlocutors including Dave Eggers and Michael Krasny, until her retirement in 2017. An enduring cultural figure, Goldstein also masterminded renovation of the 1,600-seat Nourse Theater in 2013.
After organizing talks at College of Marin in the 1970s, Goldstein built City Arts & Lectures into a lean organization with remarkable access to leading intellectuals and celebrities and a keen sense for maintaining relevance. Yet the spartan setup—a vase of flowers between two chairs, conversation and questions from the audience—has changed little over the decades.
Goldstein also partnered with KQED to broadcast the talks to the Bay Area, as well as more than 130 public radio stations nationwide. The partnership continues to this day, while the historical tapes are archived at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.