Alameda Naval Station, Sunset Lagoon, Waterfront Park, Spirits Alley — picturesque points of interest minutes away from both San Francisco and Oakland and yet unfamiliar to most “locals.”
Longtime San Franciscan Liam Passmore confesses that until he started working with RADIUM Presents, he had never been to that part of the island:
“When I took the new ferry over and landed on the west side, I could not believe the backdrop as the sun came down, super stunning.”
RADIUM, a performing arts presenter founded by Perforce Software CEO Christopher Seiwald, dreams big. The plan is for a complex that will include a 500-seat theater and arts center on the grounds of the former Naval Air Station, with rehearsal space, bar, and public lounge, designed by Bora Architecture & Interiors and The Shalleck Collaborative.
The organization already presented a launch festival in April, continues to host events, and has recruited Alameda’s most famous resident, Frederica von Stade.
“Bringing the arts to Alameda in a significant way is a very important piece in completing the intriguing puzzle that is the Alameda of tomorrow,” says Seiwald. “We are committed to making that happen. I’m excited and proud to be part of the effort alongside Frederica von Stade. When it comes to creating and building community, the arts matter, full stop.”
Flicka is among artists featured in a three-day series of events, Oct. 21–23 at Alameda Point, along with Jazz Mafia, Circus Bella, and Island City Opera. All events are free and open to the public, but online RSVP is strongly encouraged.
These events, called the RADIUM Runway Project, will take place on the proposed footprint of the theater and performance center, something of an early prototype of the complex.
The view from Alameda Point was captured in a San Francisco Chronicle article earlier this year: “tall skyline, with Yerba Buena Island surprisingly large and the Bay Bridge unexpectedly grand. In the foreground, a wide cove is lined by still-active Naval reserve ships to the south and, to the west and north, low buildings dotting former mudflats filled to create military land before World War II.”
The proposed RADIUM site will be adjacent to Waterfront Park, and the new Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal is in walking distance. Seiwald envisions a center focused on creative innovation, encouraging established artists and companies to develop new works, introducing emerging artists, and “sharing these new works through a distinctive and accessible space.”
The project aims to nurture the artists and arts leaders of tomorrow by investing in arts education, including artists-in-schools programs, student performances, master classes, internships, and volunteering opportunities.
A veteran artist, who is an Alameda resident, wishes the project success, even while seeing the magnitude of the challenge before it:
“Alameda’s capacity to support a 500-seat theater/arts center is questionable. [Many] small venues that are much closer to the main population centers have floundered in the couple of decades I’ve been paying attention to what’s going on here. My own experience is that bands I play in that can sell out the 440-seat Freight have a hard time drawing 150 people in Alameda.
“A big part of the problem with performing arts in Alameda is the perceived and real difficulty getting on and off the island. It discourages East Bay people and San Franciscans alike. And Alamedans themselves don’t necessarily support local venues at the level they need to thrive.”