Skip to main content
Another Planet

Monday, June 13th Benefit Raises Funds for New Castro Theatre Organ

Media contact:  DP&A, Inc. / David Perry (415) 676-7007 / 

Monday, June 13th Benefit Raises Funds for New Castro Theatre Organ

(CODA) Castro Organ Devotees Association
Needs $ 300,000 to Complete landmark Effort 

Elisabeth Fullerton Announces $100,000 Challenge Grant

8 June 2022 – San Francisco. 100 years ago this month, San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre opened to great fanfare, and of course, an organ accompaniment for its silent film offerings. Over the next 10 decades, movies began to talk but the Castro organs continued to play. The famed “Mighty Wurlitzer” was removed by its private owner in 2015. Now, a landmark fundraising effort on Monday, June 13 by CODA – The Castro Organ Devotees Association ( aims to complete the purchase of a new custom-made instrument that when installed will be the most up-to-date theatrical organ in existence.  Tickets may be purchased online:

“The Castro Theatre wouldn’t be the Castro Theatre without the Castro organ,” said Mary Conde, Vice President for Another Planet who is in charge of the overall Castro Theatre Project. “Since the 1970s, David Hegarty has been serenading Castro audiences including his now iconic rendition of ‘San Francisco.’ This benefit will ensure that this tradition continues.”

The June 13th event, timed to coincide with the Theatre’s 100th Anniversary, aims to complete fundraising for the $300,000 balance required. Beginning at 5:00pm, the evening includes a VIP reception followed by a special screening of the award-winning movie, Test, which tells the story of a male dance troupe in 1985 San Francisco, as they come to grips with the emerging AIDS pandemic. This special screening will be followed by an exclusive Q&A featuring Director Chris Mason Johnson, star Scott Marlowe, and Executive Producer Elisabeth Pang Fullerton.

“The Castro Theatre’s operators, Another Planet Entertainment, have a long history of supporting music education and music therapy,” said Hegarty. “They have been completely supportive of the Castro Organ project especially its use as a teaching instrument for students of the San Francisco Unified School District.”

Planning for the Castro Symphonic Theatre Organ began in 2013 when it became known that the Wurlitzer was going to be removed. Since then a smaller temporary Allen organ has been on loan to the Theatre: the personal property of Hegarty. Over a period of three years, a group of internationally renowned organ designers have collaborated in building the world’s largest hybrid theatre/classical concert organ, with seven keyboards and the capacity to replicate any musical sound.

After the Castro Symphonic Theatre Organ design was completed, fundraising for the $1.1 million required began in 2016, but was put on hold from 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. At that point, more than $800,000 had been raised. Among the distinguished donors are Dede Wilsey ($200,000), Bernard Osher ($100,000), the Morris & Alma Schapiro Fund ($95,000), the Dolby Family ($50,000), the Bob A. Ross Foundation ($35,000), the Herbst Foundation ($25,000), the Hirst/Rodman Family Trust ($25,000), the Miner-Anderson Family Foundation ($10,000), Sakurako & Bill Fisher ($10,000), the Ira & Leonore Gershwin Trusts ($5,000), and Joe Schuman Silver ($5,000).

Ms. Fullerton is serving as Chair of this fundraising event, and has announced a $100,000 Elisabeth Pang Fullerton Challenge, to encourage others to donate generously and complete the fundraising campaign on a successful note.

“Once the balance of funds are raised, the already-completed organ console can be finalized, then shipped to San Francisco,” notes Hegarty who looks forward to being at the new state-of-the-art console. “Fingers crossed, it will be installed in the Castro Theatre later this year.”

Taking over management of the LGBT and film landmark Castro Theatre earlier this year, Another Planet has quickly put in place a series of signature events, including the annual Frameline Festival, returning to the Castro for the first time since the onset of the COVID pandemic, June 13 – 26. On May 22, Another Planet sponsored the annual screening of the Academy Award winning documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk” and the debut of “The Ruth Brinker Story” chronicling the life and legacy of the Project Open Hand founder. On May 15, Another Planet returned another community favorite, “The Sound of Music Sing-a-Long” to the venue, with future sing-a-longs to part of the schedule.  June 3 – 12 brings a special celebration of films from each of the Castro Theatre’s 10 decades.  June 14 commemorates the 100th birthday of Judy Garland with a special musical celebration on stage featuring Debbie Wileman. Later in the year, community favorites such as Peaches Christ and the annual “Home for the Holidays” Concert with Donna Sachet and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus are planned.

Another Planet Entertainment is partnering with Bay Properties, Inc., owners of the Castro Theatre,  on an evolution and preservation of San Francisco’s world-renowned entertainment and LGBTQ community landmark. With a long-standing history of working to preserve and improve historic buildings such as the Fox Theater in Oakland, the Greek Theatre in Berkeley and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Another Planet seeks to enhance the Castro Theatre by implementing significant improvements to the sound, lighting, production, HVAC and the theatre’s trademark marquee, among other facets of the building: all of this, always, with an eye to honoring its unique place in the lives of the Castro and celebrating its communities and residents.