Last February, more than 5,200 revelers from all corners of the Bay Area, and even as far as Portland, Oregon, flocked to the Main Library to enjoy a 7-hour marathon of speakers and performances at the second San Francisco-edition of the Night of Ideas. An initiative of the  Institut Français, the Night of Ideas takes place on the same evening in 35+ cities around the world.  While gathering in person is out this year, the local event partners, Villa San Francisco, KQED, SFMOMA, San Francisco Public Library and California Humanities, are reuniting to produce a two-hour virtual showcase of some of the Bay Area’s leading performers and thinkers on January 28, 2021 from 7-9 p.m.   

“I’m thrilled that we are carrying on this annual tradition of bringing together local thinkers and artists to share with us their visions for a brighter and more inclusive future,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “I hope everyone tunes in and finds comfort in this wonderful shared experience, which will remind us of everything that is so amazing about our region.”  

From Finland to South Africa and from Sydney to San Francisco, more than 200 Nights of Ideas will take place on the same evening. For the 2021 Night of Ideas livestream, keynote speakers and performers were asked to meditate on the theme of “closing the distance,” an adaptation of the international theme “proche” or “close.” The program will present a variety of perspectives on how we can collectively move closer to each other and to a better future by reimagining our civic spaces to be more inclusive and by advancing racial equity. The program, which will be broadcasted globally from France by the Institut Français during a 24-hour program, is also designed to bring people closer to the Bay Area and to the individuals who make it special. Viewers can expect to see performances featuring some of the area’s iconic scenery and tributes to our artists and essential workers that have kept spirits up during these challenging times.  

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