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  • Writer's pictureMarian Hubler

Bread & Roses Celebrates 50th Anniversary (1974-2024)

Our Beloved Bay Area Nonprofit Presents Fifty Years of Talented Performers Giving Institutional Concerts

 

We’ve all heard of gifted performing artists who are finally “discovered” at age 50. But have you ever heard of a group of musicians who deliberately flew under the radar for 50 years without giving a thought to being recognized?

 

Then it’s time you met the volunteer artists of Bread & Roses Presents, the professional musicians, clowns and storytellers who are celebrating 50 years of freely sharing their gifts with people all over the Bay Area who are isolated from society or have limited access to live performing arts.

 

Launched in Marin County in 1974 by folk music icon, the late Mimi Fariña, Bread & Roses is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the spirit of its founder, by putting the spotlight on the thousands of people and hundreds of community institutions it has been serving with free, high-quality entertainment for so long. The name was inspired by a poem by James Oppenheim that was written in 1912, “Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.” 

 

During 2024, Bread & Roses is honoring its remarkable history of presenting live music programs for isolated audiences. We reached an all-time high of over 600 annual concerts in 2019 and post-pandemic continue to present over 500 concerts a year.   The shows take place at a wide variety of community settings including assisted living facilities for seniors, hospitals for veterans, recovery centers for adults and special needs schools for children.

 

We are currently expanding and renewing our program at institutional settings throughout the Bay Area with a focus on the East Bay and San Francisco as well as turning a spotlight on some of our facility partners. Bread & Roses has long-standing relationships with institutions like The Cedars of Marin, The Redwoods, Zuckerberg SF General Hospital and The Veterans Home in Yountville whose audiences it has served for decades. No other organization has served as wide a variety of audiences of disadvantaged youth, adults and seniors with live music for as long as our beloved Bay Area non-profit. 

 

The mission of bringing hope, healing and joy through free live music and the performing arts for people who need it most remains steadfast to this day. In 2023, Bread & Roses presented 509 concerts for 54,399 audience members served by 67 facility partners across eight Bay Area counties, fulfilling our important role at the hub of a giant wheel connecting audiences in social service settings with musicians and performing artists. Close to 300 volunteer performers are involved each year.

 

During the pandemic when many institutional audiences were severely restricted, we expanded our program model. In addition to our traditional indoor concerts, we facilitated live virtual shows and outdoor programs at large food bank distribution centers as well as other community settings.  

 

Throughout our history, the backbone of the organization has always been the many performers and others who volunteer for our facility concerts as well as our benefit events. Long-time high profile supporters include motivational speaker Michael Pritchard as well as celebrity spokesperson Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers. Dedicated donors, as well as benefit performers, include Joan Baez (Mimi’s sister), Kris Kristofferson, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt, as well as newer artists like Grammy-nominated Phoebe Bridgers of boygenius and Hozier. 

 

Many other generous community members support the cause through donations or in-kind contributions. The board takes a dynamic role in guiding the organization and our Circle of Advisors lend their expertise on an ongoing basis. 

 

Bread & Roses is well known for its early Festivals of Music at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. In our long tradition of producing benefit concerts, our nonprofit is currently planning various fundraising events in honor of our 50th anniversary to raise funds and enhance awareness of our ongoing mission. 

 

Executive Director Dave Perron first served as a board member during the 80s and has led the organization for nearly a decade. He recently said “In honor of our landmark anniversary, we are planning a number of exciting events beginning with our spring benefit concert The Golden Jam at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on May 23. We hope you will join our celebration and support our cause.”

 

To make a contribution, sponsor an event or volunteer, visit www.breadandroses.org, email info@breadandroses.org, or call (415) 945-7120.  You can also “join the conversation” or follow us on Facebook (@BreadAndRosesCA) or Instagram (@breadandroses_ca).  Bread & Roses Presents, 233 Tamalpais Drive, #100, Corte Madera, CA 94925

 

Hope and Healing Through Live Music

 

 

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