Downtown Arts Dist extensive guide to Berkeley and San Francisco area, plus inspiring articles about trips around the world

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BERKELEY’s BEST ‚óŹAttractions

Downtown Arts District

Addison St. betw. Shattuck Ave. & Milvia St.  Works by local artists are displayed in this enclave for the arts, and 127 cast-iron panels embedded in the sidewalk are imprinted with poetry and comprise the Addison Street Poetry Walk (they were selected by Kensington resident Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate). 

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Aurora Theatre  2081 Addison St./Shattuck Ave.  In this intimate venue, no seat is more than 4 rows from the stage.  The two venues include the 150-set main stage Alafi Auditorium and the 50-seat black box theater Harry’s Up-Stage. 

image copyright Cheshire Isaacs, courtesy of venue
Berkeley Repertory Theatre   2025 Addison St./Shattuck Ave.  This Tony Award-winning company has established a national reputation for ambitious programming and dynamic productions.  It is well known for presenting important new dramatic voices and fresh adaptations of seldom-seen classics.  Multi-talented Rita Moreno, now a local resident, appears in some productions.  Past productions have won 5 Tonys, 7 Obies, 9 Drama Desk Awards, 1 Grammy, and many other honors.  Performances are held in two spaces:  the 400-seat Peet’s Theatre, and the 600-seat Roda Theatre.  A cafe provides a vibrant gathering space before curtain and during intermission; a simple snack counter is also available.  See info about “It Can’t Happen Here.”

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California Jazz Conservatory  2087 Addison St.  Situated in the basement of the landmark Kress building, this school offers music lessons, performances, and the well-reviewed Jazzcaffe, which sometimes hosts free afternoon concerts.  Concerts are presented in the 85-seat Rendon Hall theater located in the new Fiddler Annex across the street at 2040 Addison Street. 

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Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse  2020 Addison St.  Performances most nights at 7:30 or 8 pm.  This non-profit green performance facility, which has been around since the ‘60s but moved to this location in 2009, features traditional music such as blues, folk, honky tonk, and Celtic.  It is the longest-running full-time folk music venue west of the Mississippi.  Comfortable auditorium seating is first-come, first-served, but everyone gets a good view and excellent acoustics--thanks to a sound system designed exclusively for the space by Meyer Sound Lab of Berkeley.  Wine and beer and, of course, coffee are available, plus light snacks (cookies, peanuts).  Note that this venue is only open for coffee and food service when a show is scheduled, and then a ticket is required for admission.

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Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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