Gray Area Revives the Historic Grand Cinema with a New Art & Technology Theater in San Francisco.

After two years of research and development, Gray Area is pleased to announce a permanent home in the Mission District at The Grand Theater, a former 870-seat single screen cinema built in 1940.

“Rehabilitating the Grand Theater marks our renewed commitment to serve as a media arts organization that creates jobs, and a technology lab that fosters community.” Josette Melchor, Executive Director continues, “Gray Area’s Cultural Incubator will enable new practices and modes of production, providing immense civic value and catalyzing economic innovation in San Francisco.

Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Gray Area $100,000 to develop an immersive theater for experimental surround cinema with Recombinant Media Labs. While the grant allowed for us to secure this historic building, we will be raising additional funds from our community and institutional partners.

2665 Mission Street, 1970 courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Why Does This Matter?

The current real estate market is pricing cultural organizations out of San Francisco. This campaign brings back a historic cinema to the creative community at a critical time in the city’s history.

In the heart of the Mission District, Gray Area Foundation has signed a 10 year lease for the 10,000 square foot Grand Theater.

The project seeks to immerse thousands of people with unforgettable experiences and inspire them to see our world differently.

San Francisco’s rich history and intense energy can serve as fertile ground for arts and technology communities to sit down at the table to collaborate.

Proxy Hayes Valley by Envelope A + D

Building Architecture & Design

Gray Area is proud to partner with architecture firm Envelope Architecture + Design. The team behind the successful PROXY, a Hayes Valley two-block construct that imagines a vibrant focal point for commerce and community. The project utilized mixed use shipping containers to transform a vacant parking lot into a cultural hub. In order to renovate the Grand Theater, Envelope A+D has produced compelling designs that celebrate the historic landmark’s identity while bringing flexibility and modularity to optimize the large open space.

Interior Render by Envelope A + D

Cultural Incubator

Gray Area’s cultural incubator will blur the lines between culture and commerce, providing a framework to amplify social impact, reach a sustainable practice, and scale up. Over the next decade, the program will be home to hundreds of civic and creative projects that have been developed and will be developed by our ongoing initiatives. Requests for anchor member private desks and studios will be accepted through a rolling application process. Open space memberships will be open to our entire community.

Members will be an eclectic group of creative practitioners representing a large variety of disciplines including: creative code, product design, interactive installation, performance, architecture, urban planning, film, data science, gaming, writing, journalism, music, and many more. Beyond developing their own projects, members will be showcasing and performing their work to a public audience in the Theater.

Building Features

  • 10,000 sq. ft. on Two Levels
  • 50 Shared Desks in Open Space
  • 25 Private Desks
  • 4 Studios
  • 2 Conference Rooms / Classrooms
  • 500-Capacity Venue
  • Immersive Media Venue
  • High Speed Internet

Member Benefits

  • 10% discount on Gray Area Creative Coding classes
  • 10% discount on 3rd party events
  • Free access to Gray Area’s performances and lecture series
  • Discount event rental in venue
  • On-site mail services
  • On-site lockers
  • Lounge and public meeting areas
  • Kitchenette with coffee services
  • Free access network printers
  • Access to 2 conference rooms / classrooms

Membership Levels

Open Desk ($200/Month)

  • First come first serve open space desk
  • Access: 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week
  • 2 month minimum

Private Desk ($420/month)

  • Dedicated desk in secured area
  • 24 / 7 Access to space and facilities
  • 3 month minimum

Studio ($1000 to $2000/month)

  • Accommodates 2 – 6 desks
  • 24 / 7 access to space and facilities
  • 6 month minimum
Creative Code: Processing & HTML5 Class

Creative Code Education

Gray Area’s renowned Creative Code platform provides affordable computer programming education to adults and teenagers. We teach code to create art through a series of specialized courses covering topics pertaining to computational design and physical computing. After 50+ classes with 500+ students, we are offering an immersive and fellowship program to help artists get paid creative work. As a non-profit organization, we are committed to sharing open-source skills at a fraction of the cost of alternative facilities in addition to actively seeking funding for scholarships to make these tools even more accessible to local residents, regardless of their income. This program is led by Gray Area’s Education Director, Matthew Ganucheau.

Public Programming

Gray Area’s consistent, diverse programming is an interface between artist and audience. In a single month, we will produce a dozen events including artistic performances, classes, creative prototyping nights, meetups, film screenings, panel discussions, and local community meetings regarding pressing issues. Our events program is being led by HQ Director, Melissa Marie with Production Manager Seabrook Gubbins.

Upcoming Public Programs

The Free Art And Technology F.A.T. Lab GOLD Exhibit Organized by Lindsay Howard which brings together a group of twenty-five collaborators comprised of artists, hackers, engineers, and graffiti writers for a weeklong residency.

The Books In Browsers Conference, in partnership with Swissnex, Goethe-Institut and Berkeley Center for New Media will produce a program to discuss the future of publishing for an international and local audience of writers and researchers.

The Teen Creative Coding Classes in partnership with Youth Art Exchange, will consistently provide after school education to share the skills necessary for hacking, coding, and soldering creative projects together.

Getting up to code.

You Are Invited

Artists have always worked with new materials and technologies. Now consider what a moment this is for contemporary artists as they embrace the world of code, data, and sensors.

From the early Experiments in Art and Technology to modern incubator spaces, cross-industry collaborations help us reimagine the society we live in and the way we express ourselves within it.

As we have learned through the last 7 years at Gray Area, the emergence of a cultural movement stems from a series of improvisations, collisions, and accidents. Adjacent ideas need to meet, dance with each other to eventually find a rhythm through which they can evolve, become one and perform.

Gray Area’s Art & Technology Theater is the stage for imagination and exploration. It is a sandbox for multiple communities to explore, learn, shape new perspectives, think, and create together.

The Art and Technology Theater is 10,000 square feet of possibilities. There are classrooms to learn, a cinema to experience and share, a large open space to meet and collaborate, desks and studios to move forward.