The Phoenix Theater, also known as the Petaluma Phoenix Center, is a one-of-a-kind non-profit community building and performance venue. Constructed in 1904, it began as the Hill Opera House and was the finest theater in California north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It became a movie theater in the decades to come, first as the California Theater and later as the Showcase Theater, before it transitioned into a full-time live music venue known as the Phoenix Theater in the 1980's. The guiding principle of the Phoenix has always been that it's "everyone's building" and this was formalized in the early 2000's when the Phoenix became a 501(c)3 nonprofit community center.
Open door policy to the community
The Phoenix Theater is open seven days a week, generally from 3pm to 7pm, for drop-in “unstructured” use. Our building interior is large and soulful, with several rooms to accommodate a variety of activities. On a typical afternoon, you’ll find kids playing acoustic music (we’ve got two pianos and a big stage), skateboarding (across the large wooden floor and up one of four quarter-pipe ramps), doing homework in the tutoring room, or sitting in one of the overstuffed sofas: reading, talking with friends, or napping. There’s always a staff member onsite, but the atmosphere is casual.
Do you have an idea for how to use this big old dusty building? That's what we're here for. Reach out at our contact page and we'll see what we can come up with together.
Free lessons, workshops, jam sessions, and classes: from rock to blues to jazz to folk to recording, podcasting, band management and promoting – all DIY and all free.
The Phoenix is a hub for young artists to hone their craft and make the jump to the professional art world through mentoring relationships with artists, art shows at the Phoenix, and community public art projects. We have over a thousand square feet of indoor and outdoor mural space where dozens of young artists develop their skill and refine their style.
On the job mentoring program
Many of the Phoenix's jobs involving show production, sound, stage lighting, area supervision during shows, door staffing and janitorial services are performed by teens and young adults who are being mentored by the theater management. This part of the Phoenix has functioned as an informal mentoring program and has led to a number of Phoenix kids working in live music / event production in their adulthood. To find out more, reach out to Tom Gaffey (Phoenix Theater manager) via our contact page.
Teen health clinic | Drop-in Visits: Thursdays 3:30–5:30PM Volunteer Program & Clinic Director Cheryl Negrin, FNP/PA/MSN/PHN
The mission of the Phoenix Teen Clinic is to provide education, literature, and free or low cost services for various adolescent issues, including reproductive health and sexually transmitted infections, in an environment that is relaxed and teen friendly. The Teen Clinic fosters an open dialogue on issues facing teens today and encourage teens to make conscious, more informed decisions and choices regarding their health. The Teen Clinic seeks to form community partnerships to provide a wide range of services to teens. It is the only clinic exclusively serving teens in Petaluma since the closure of the public health clinic in 1994.
More information can be found at the Phoenix's teen health clinic website.
Tom Gaffey | Founder & Theater Manager
Tom has lived in Petaluma and worked at the Phoenix since 1983. He started learning theater management skills in the 7th grade when the building was the Showcase movie theater, working his first job behind the candy counter. He believes the most important aspect of his job is to open the doors every morning and make sure that the building is available to anyone who needs it.
Cheryl Negrin | Volunteer FNP/PA/MSN/PHN, Teen Health Clinic
Cheryl Negrin has been involved in women’s health services and family practice services since 1968. She started at the Haight Free Clinic in San Francisco, volunteering as a reproductive health and drug abuse counselor. She also volunteered at Planned Parenthood in a similar capacity. Cheryl was one of the founders of the Petaluma Free Clinic and continued to coordinate it for 10 years. After the Petaluma Free Clinic closed in 2002, Cheryl opened the Phoenix Teen Clinic to fill the community’s need. She is a family nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, has a masters of science in nursing, and is a certified public health nurse. She is the volunteer director of the Phoenix Teen Clinic and mentors teens to operate the clinic as health care workers and reproductive health educators.
Ian Dubois | Production/Sound Consultant
Ian Dubois was one of the kids frequenting the Phoenix Theater in the early 1990s. After befriending local favorite, The Conspiracy, in 1994 he was mixing the sound for all of the shows. In 1996 Ian replaced the previous house sound and lights equipment with a more up to date standard at his own expense. As a result of humble beginnings at the Phoenix, Ian now works for a national sound rental company and bands such as Tracy Chapman, The Irish Tenors, and The Dead. This ever growing knowledge is brought back to the theater and passed on to new generations of theater techies picked from today’s generation of Phoenix Family.
Jim Agius | Programming & Administration
Jim Agius starting promoting concerts at the Phoenix in 2006, initially focusing on local bands and then bringing a variety of touring national acts to the Phoenix stage in the years to come. He is the host of the Onstage podcast (taped on the Phoenix stage with manager Tom Gaffey) which gives a platform to local artists. He continues to organize live events at the Phoenix while also working behind-the-scenes with Tom on organizational and fundraising work.