Noontime Concerts has presented low-cost, lunch time classical music concerts in downtown San Francisco every week for the past twenty years. The 45-minute performances feature Bay Area musicians and world renown performers including pianist Jon Nakematsu and the Alexander String Quartet. The concerts are held at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Financial District and do not require tickets (a $5.00 donation is requested). Cumulative attendance for the 70+ concerts was 13,000 in 2006, made up of about 3-4,000 downtown workers, students, seniors, tourists, and shoppers. There are numerous opportunities to see high caliber classical music in San Francisco, however Noontime is the only one that, like St. Martins-in-the-Fields in London or New York’s Concerts at One series, that presents it effectively for free during the middle of the day. With one full time employee, Executive Director James Ritell, and a small board this $250,000 organization will use ongoing support from The Hewlett Foundation to improve its marketing and audience development efforts. The ongoing challenge for Noontime is to fill up every pew with a patron searching for, what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a "workday oasis." Funded since 2000, this funding recommendation is proposed as an exit grant [see additional description and comments].
About the Grantee
660 California Street, San Francisco, CA, 94108-2501, United States
Grants to this Grantee
for general operating support
Noontime is a presenter of free mid-day concerts of high quality classical music at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco’s Financial District. The concerts primarily feature both local and touring soloists and chamber groups and attract a mix of downtown office workers, tourists and elderly classical music aficionados. Under the leadership of executive director James Ritell the small budget organization has managed to attract a consistent roster of impressive artists, establish a strong relationship with the Catholic diocese and the leadership of St. Mary's and, in response to concerns raised by Hewlett program staff in the past, build up a relatively healthy cash reserve. Nevertheless, the audiences that Noontime reaches are very small, the organization has not succeeded in developing and implementing plans to boost its marketing efforts, and now that Noontime has settled into a groove and organizational budget size of less than $200,000 a year it can continue to pursue its mission as it sees fit with support from individual donors and relatively small project grants from local and corporate arts funders, thus this grant is recommended as a tie-off.