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Pamela Z.

It's no secret that the Bay Area arts community is fighting for its life. The logical fallout of dot-com development — greedy landlords exponentially inflating rents to cash in on market demand for scarce real estate — has already gutted a number of essential performance and rehearsal spaces in town.Feeling the weight of its ever-increasing operating costs, Theater Artaud, one of the city's oldest (est. 1972) and most respected higher-profile, multidisciplinary venues, is staging “Z Program 8 (Infinity),” a best-of-breed benefit concert curated by multimedia maven and high-tech language goddess Pamela Z. Arguably a more effective protest than desperate building occupations or vitriolic missives to the powers that be, this pan-arts showcase will make it abundantly clear why San Francisco should support its creative community.

Simply put, art is by definition an act of creation. Adventurous art — eyeball-popping, jaw-dropping, boundary-busting endeavor — procreates its vital energy many times over via avid audiences who experience it up close and personal. Anyone who has ever seen Pamela Z hot-wired in her BodySynth, upending word, sound, and image into lush virgin vistas, has come away from the encounter changed and super-charged. The same goes for seeing Miya Masaoka or Donald Swearingen, each of whom crafts unreal compositions with laser lights, MIDI interfaces, and strings. Then there's the beautiful, grotesque intensity of Ink Boat's butoh movement, Jeanne Finley's award-winning experiments with cinematic narrative, and John Chiara's larger-than-life photographs. All of the performers in “Z Program 8 (Infinity)” attest to the crucial contribution of local artists to our way of life in the Bay Area; a culture without the arts in action is desolation. This Theater Artaud benefit challenges San Francisco to affirm its commitment to vibrant local creativity before our once-dynamic city declines toward a Silicon Valley wasteland.

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