May Arts and Music Calendar

May in the Bay means plenty of diverse arts and music events to discover. Whether you feel like watching an award-winning play, checking out film screenings, spending time outdoors with live poetry or dancing at a new Bay Area music festival — or all of the above — you can find it all here in our backyard. Here are the arts and music events our partners are offering this month:

"The Color Purple". Photo courtesy of SHN Orpheum Theatre.

The Color Purple (May 1-27) at Civic Center/UN Plaza

The Pulitzer Prize-winning story, “The Color Purple,” has come to life on stage and is being performed at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. “The Color Purple” is the 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival, and New York Magazine called it “one of the greatest revivals ever”. Don’t miss this story about a young woman’s journey to love and triumph in the American South, accompanied with a score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. Tickets range from $55-$246 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 1 minute to the Orpheum Theatre.


Oakland Art Month (May 1-31)


The month of May is a special one for Oakland: it’s the month the city has dedicated to promote events, performances and shows that highlight local artists and work created in Oakland. One of the more anticipated events is the Inaugural Oakland Mural Festival. Murals will be painted throughout the Jack London Square neighborhood from May 12-19. Other featured events will be the First Friday “Women in Art”, Oakland symphony’s “The Artist Struggle”, Jack London Art & Wine Festival and East Bay Open Studios Opening Celebration. Ticket prices vary with each event. Take BART to various stations around Oakland.


Sunday Streets Tenderloin (May 6) at Civic Center/UN Plaza


Sunday Streets transforms one to four miles of normally congested streets into car-free spaces where kids can play and adults can stroll and mingle. There are often activities for visitors to do as well. Its May event will be held in the Tenderloin, from 11am to 4pm., around Larkin St., Ellis St., Jones St. and Golden Gate Ave. The nonprofit Livable City partnered with the SFMTA, San Francisco Department of Public Health and the City and County of San Francisco to create the program Sunday Streets. Sunday Streets started in 2008 and was inspired by Ciclovia in Bogota, Colombia. It has grown to one of North America’s premiere open street programs, and around 10 events are held throughout San Francisco annually. Admission is free. Ride BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 7 minutes to Fulton St.


Yerba Buena Gardens Festival (May 6-October 28) at Montgomery Street or Powell Street

This festival offers six months of admission-free music, dance and theater performances at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. There will be lunchtime and weekend concerts, along with poetic Tuesdays and a Children’s Garden Series, among other events. The YBG Festival is dedicated to presenting long-term and free arts and cultural programs that reflect the cultures and creativity of the Bay Area. All programs are outdoors, family-friendly and ADA accessible. Admission is free. Take BART to either Montgomery Street or Powell Street and walk 10 minutes to the gardens at 750 Howard St.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is six months of admission-free music, dance, theater and other performances.

A flyer provided by the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.

Bike to Work Day (May 10)


Did you know May is Bike Month? Celebrate with other Bay Area locals by taking your bike to work on May 10. For those in the East Bay, there will be Energizer Stations in the morning with free refreshments, Bike to Work Day bags, weekend BART round trip tickets and high fives. BARTable will be stationed at Frank Ogawa Plaza from 6:30am to 10am that morning, at Walk Oakland Bike Oakland’s event. In the evening there’ll be Bike Happy Hour celebrations at various places such as Oakland’s Latham Square and Fremont’s Whole Foods Market. Participants can also sign a pledge to ride and be entered to win a Beautiful Machine hoodie.


CAAMFest (May 10-24)


The 36th annual CAAMfest is held during the heart of the Asian American Heritage Month, which takes place in May, and will feature more than 100 Asian American film screenings and events in over 15 venues across San Francisco and Oakland. There will also be music, live performances, special presentations and food offerings. The festival will kick off with the world premiere of Dianne Fukami’s “An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy,” with Secretary Norman Mineta in attendance. Tickets range from $12-$500 and can be purchased online. Take BART to various stations around San Francisco and Oakland.


A photo of Secretary Norman Mineta. Photo courtesy of CAAMFest.

What the Constitution Means to Me (May 10-June 17) at Downtown Berkeley

Heidi Schreck used to deliver speeches about the Constitution in American Legion Halls all across the U.S. back in high school to help pay for college. Now the Obie Award-winning performer has reinvented her speech she gave at 15 to a new audience and explores the effect the document has had on four generations of women in her family. The piece also includes a debate between Schreck and a local high-school debater over the future of citizens’ inalienable rights. Head over to Berkeley Rep Theatre and go watch what New York Magazine called one of the 10 best shows of 2017. Tickets range from $30-$97 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to Berkeley Rep.


Dance Series 02 (May 11-12) at Walnut Creek

Smuin Contemporary American Ballet’s “Dance Series 02” features two performances — one called “Oasis” and the other titled “Falling Up.” Helen Pickett created “Oasis,” which is set to an original score by Emmy award-winning “House of Cards” composer Jeff Beal. It explores the subject of water and its essential role in life. The Mercury News described it as “ingeniously crafted”.


Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert’s “Falling” Up dives into the concept of strength and trust between partners. It will be set to a piano score by Johannes Brahms.


Tickets range from $57-$73 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Walnut Creek and walk 9 minutes to Lesher Center for the Arts.


Goldenvoice Blurry Vision (May 12-13) at West Oakland

Goldenvoice is known for its epic west coast festivals, and now it’s bringing one to the Bay Area. Its new Blurry Vision Festival will be held in Oakland’s Middle Harbor Park and will bring big names such as SZA, Migos, NxWorries and BROCKHAMPTON. Attendees can buy either single day or multi-day tickets, and a portion of ticket proceeds will go to several local charity organizations. Tickets range from $99-$199 and can be purchased online. Take BART to West Oakland and then take a free shuttle from the station to the event.

Blurry Vision is a Goldenvoice festival in Oakland.


Eureka Day (Ends May 13) at Downtown Berkeley


Aurora Theatre Company’s “Eureka Day” is a comedic play based on parents who argue with one another over the safety of their children, and the definition of safety itself. It confronts the central question: how do you find consensus when you can’t agree on the facts? Local playwright and two-time Aurora Global Age Project winner Jonathan Spector produced “Eureka Day,” his first commission. Check out the play the San Francisco Chronicle called “uproarious!”

Tickets range from $33-$65 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to Aurora Theatre.


Carnaval (May 26 and 27) at 16 St. Mission (SF) or 24th St. Mission (SF)


Carnaval is a global festive season that traditionally occurs before Lent, and usually involves a public celebration and parade. San Francisco has had its own Carnaval that past few decades, and this year will mark its 40th year. The theme is Roots of Carnaval, and there will be music, art, and dance from Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. You can catch the BARTmobile at the Grand Parade, which will be held on Sunday, May 27th at 9:30am. There will also be raffle prizes for attendees -- the number one prize is round trip tickets for two to Cancun. Admission is free. Take BART to 16th St. Mission (SF) or 24th St. Mission (SF) and the festival will be right there.


Angels in America (Ends July 22) at Downtown Berkeley

Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, “Angels in America,” is at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Tony Taccone is the artistic director of the play in his 20th anniversary season. The play was first staged 26 years ago, and originally commissioned by the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco. It’s a two-part drama that explores subjects like American politics and gay identity, along with love and loyalty. Tickets range from $40-$100 and can be purchased online. Take BART to Downtown Berkeley and walk 2 minutes to Berkeley Rep.


Divine Bodies (Ends July 29) at Civic Center/UN Plaza


The Asian Art Museum houses one of the largest collections of Asian art in the world with 18,00 objects — some pieces dating back 6,000 years.

Its current feature exhibition, Divine Bodies, showcases more than 40 traditional Hindu and Buddhist paintings and sculptures, along with some modern photo-based work. Divine Bodies encourages attendees to ponder themes of transformation, transcendence and the relationship of the bodies to the cosmos. Tickets range from $10-$25, and there will be free admission on May 6. Take BART to Civic Center/UN Plaza and walk 4 minutes to the museum.

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