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San Francisco’s Geary Theater is getting a new name.
The theater, built in 1910 as the Columbia Theater, will be renamed the Toni Rembe Theater, after the San Francisco philanthropist.
American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), which operates the building, made the announcement on Monday. The renaming is “in recognition of a $35 million gift from an anonymous donor,” the largest single gift in A.C.T.’s history.
“The funds provided are transformational for the future of American Conservatory Theater and the impact of our programming throughout the San Francisco Bay Area,” A.C.T. Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein said in a statement. “Toni is a role model, and we are honored to recognize her in such a deserving and significant way.”
A.C.T. has made the theater at 415 Geary Street its home since 1967. In 1989, the theater suffered major damage from the Loma Prieta earthquake, requiring a $28.5 million restoration.
The renaming of the Geary Theater follows other high-profile venue name changes in San Francisco, such as the 2019 renaming of the Giants’ ballpark, previously known as AT&T Park, to Oracle Park. Other renamings are not so corporate, including a 2018 renaming of the Nourse Auditorium, home to City Arts & Lectures. That theater is now known as the Sydney Goldstein Theatre, in honor of City Arts & Lectures’ late founder.
Pam MacKinnon, A.C.T.’s artistic director, said in a statement: “Toni Rembe has been central to the health and well-being of the Bay Area theater scene. Her wide-ranging artistic taste and appreciation of artists and the special act of audiences coming together for a story make her a true theater lover.”
Rembe, president of the van Lӧben Sels/Rembe Rock Foundation, has served on A.C.T.’s Board of Trustees for over 20 years. She is a past president and chair of A.C.T.’s board, a past president of the Commonwealth Club, and a a retired partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.