Since 1980, City Arts & Lectures has been bringing leading authors, artists, and other luminaries to the Herbst Theater in San Francisco — and to public radio listeners across the country. Now, the series has its own very own home: The Nourse Theatre, a 1693-seat former school auditorium closed to the public for over 30 years. We talk with founder and director Sydney Goldstein about the new Civic Center space and about her vision for the future of City Arts.

Sydney Goldstein, founder and executive director of City Arts and Lectures

  • erictremont

    I like the events staged by City Arts and Lectures, but my schedule rarely permits me to attend the live presentations nor it is it feasible to me to hear the broadcasts of the events on KQED. Their refusal to secure the rights for podcasting is frankly anti-working class. It is a trival matter to secure the rights for podcasting, the only reason I can think of for not doing that is the desire to exclude the masses from enjoying the lectures.

    • Hhotelconsult

      Agreed. Well said.

  • erictremont

    Did it ever occur to Ms. Goldstein that more people would donate $ to City Arts and Lectures if they would archive podcasts online?

  • Hhotelconsult

    This conversation is SO IMPORTANT – thank you for taking her to task about their narrow, 20th century mentality about podcasting. If people who pay for these tickets had the option of listening and not going, I assure you they will still go to the darn event. I would. But there are dozens if not hundreds of friends who couldn’t attend that *NEED* to listen to the event. Sandberg’s Lean In with Condoleeza is one of them… my neice and my sister NEED to listen to that, and I have no way to share it. I have even thought about bootlegging it live, then posting it online. Prevent piracy, build brand, and share the intellectual cornucopia with the world. It will only buttress and bolster your events, and spread the word.

    It means the changing of the guard is more necessary now than ever. The 20th century mentality is hurting, not helping. Grow into the new world, and realize it will grow your concept.

    • erictremont

      Very well-stated. It also should be noted that 15 years ago City Arts and Lectures routinely sold recordings of their events on cassette tape, a process that must have been far more costly and cumbersome than posting an audio file on a web site.

  • Tovil

    I appreciate the traditional perspective on non-podcasting but do wish it were possible to purchase recordings of the material – acknowledging the financial and legal implications. Please note that KQED has multiple repeat broadcasts that are easily accessible and recordable.
    One question, when will the “Last Foxtrot” even be broadcast on KQED?

  • Re: Protecting ticket sales: Podcasts don’t have to be free. Charge for the podcast what you charge for the tickets, or charge a subscription fee. You are overlooking a source of revenue. Being old is not an excuse for being antiquated and stuck in your ways. A dear mexican friend shared an inspiring phrase with me once- “If that which is worth doing were easy everyone would do it.”

    My husband is a teacher and I know other teachers who agree that what is shared in these lectures have incredibly valuable applications in the classroom. The archive at UC Berkeley is cumbersome and not particularly usefull since there is no way to retrieve or move the material out of the library. What’s the point of archiving if it is not available to be used? There isn’t a point.

  • Javier Campos

    She was so condescending about the whole podcasting subject. Not at all personable.

  • Mimi in Berkeley


    I’m surprised by the focus on podcasting when the Forum program was about the reality that in one year this woman with an office of three including herself, was able to find a new place after being hit with an eviction notice, raised a million dollars — not the 120 million originally mentioned that most people would run from — and took on the role of the overseer of this incredible renovation (and, in doing so, made a new theater in town available for many other organizations to use.)

    She, along with the two women who work with her and the stage manager, was on stage last night for the first event in the new theater, and it was stunning to realize that she pulled this off — looking at this theater– all the while continuing the terrific programming, some of which goes to scholarships, that has put her and kept her on the map for decades, (I saw a list once of all the people she’s hosted over the years and it was staggering to even imagine that anyone could have both the intelligence and ability to pull that off.) The Michael Lewis conversation last night is not to be missed and can be heard on KQED because she’s provided it free of charge.

    The listeners apparently weren’t able or wanting to hear, as I heard, her explain the reality of how her operating budget works differently from shows that do podcast, or imagine all that may be involved in securing rights to podcast — I didn’t “get” that she was refusing to secure rights — but with her budget and revenue as well as the real need to raise the money to restore the theater that she did, it wasn’t possible. I didn’t get that it was a drive to keep the working class out of programs that not infrequently deal with topics of absolute concern TO the working class — and the class of those unable to work. I am in the working class, and have donated to City Arts as it’s been possible because of what she has brought to the area consistently over the years to people who attend the shows and to people who are able to listen to them on the radio — free. I’ve done both and continue to be highly appreciative for what she does and makes available to us. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy!

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