San Francisco’s Mission District is a culturally rich and constantly changing environment. From its Irish and German beginnings and the cultural boom of a growing Latino population in the 40s-60s, to the Valencia punk scene in the 70s and added Central American diversity in the 80s and 90s, the current arts and culture-soaked neighborhood is something that many passionately fight to preserve in today’s changing landscape.
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) actively takes part in preserving the cultural richness within our city, and our CAAMFest 2016 expansion to the Mission is a reflection of those efforts and excitement. CAAMFest adds the venerable 106-year-old Roxie Theater, the newly-minted Alamo Drafthouse and the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts to its lineup, as well as returning year after year to Slate Bar.
Here is our guide to experience, contribute to, and, above all, respect the Mission during CAAMFest 2016.
The Alamo Drafthouse at New Mission – 2550 Mission Street
Nearly a century ago, the New Mission Theater was a decadent movie house in San Francisco. Over time, the space changed to a concert venue, a futon store and finally a shuttered space used for raves and graffiti artists. Last year, Alamo Drafthouse restored and renovated the space, breathing new life into the empty colossus. The theater now is home to five screens, a deliciously diverse food and drink menu and both mainstream and quirky programming. They also recently partnered with the 18-year-Mission-resident Lost Weekend Video store, who will work with Alamo to preserve over 27,000 hard-to-find films, adding a level of depth and history to the burgeoning venue.
The Roxie Theater – 3117 16th Street
Known as a “beacon of unwavering independence, originality and integrity,” the 106-year-old Roxie Theater is San Francisco’s oldest continually-operating theater, and a true treasure to the neighborhood. Through over a hundred years of name and programming changes, the now nonprofit theater is dedicated to showcasing the coolest, weirdest and most thought-provoking films of the past, present and future. Icing on the cake -The Roxie partners with many local organizations to put on other festivals and events, so there’s always something going on.
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts – 2665 Mission Street
With a mission to apply art and technology to create positive social impact through education, civic engagement and public programs, The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts is a beautifully organic space in the Mission. The nonprofit foundation has been around for nearly a decade, just recently moving to the Mission Street space where they host exhibitions, music events, software and electronics classes, a media lab and resident-artist program. Gray Area will house CAAMFest 2016’s interactive programming, including panels, Directions In Sound and more.
Slate Bar – 2925 16th Street
CAAM and Slate Bar have a fun history together. Having hosted our yearly after party Social Club event for the last four years, Slate Bar is a modern space with a great dance floor, pool table and an extensive cocktail list that includes jalapeño (you read that right) infused tequila for an extra kick. Slate’s usual events include reggae and poetry slams, karaoke dance and trivia nights.
Art and music flow from every corner of the Mission. Take a stroll through the vibrant streets and see the colorful and fascinating murals of The Women’s Building, let your expression flow through movement at Dance Mission Theater and ODC Dance or celebrate art and community at Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts. The more you wander and absorb, the better.
Food For Thought
Diversity in the Mission makes for an impressive array of local places to eat and drink. With the constant shuffle of restaurants and stores, we recommend trying both local, historical spots like La Taqueria, and new places with fresh takes on cultural fare like Boba Guys. Try something you wouldn’t normally try and excite your palette with new opportunity!
The Mission is incredibly easy to access through public transportation. A simple BART ride to the 24th or 16th Street stops puts you in the center of the action, and Muni also runs many lines through, including the 12, 14, 22, 33, 48, 49 and 55. A few parking lots are also available for hourly and daily rates. For those up to hitting the pavement or biking, the neighborhood is rather centered in the city, making the Mission very accessible.
View all of CAAMFest 2016’s Mission programming here.