Residency FAQ



Q: Why “The Commons”?

A: The term “commons” refers to space that is shared by the community as a whole. SOMArts is committed to supporting artists at all levels of development and reflecting San Francisco’s many communities in the service of its mission: SOMArts cultivates access to the arts within the Bay Area by collaborating with community-focused artists and organizations. Together, we engage the power of the arts to provoke just and fair inclusion, cultural respect, and civic participation.

Q: What can I gain through the Commons Curatorial Residency?

A: Lead applicants are provided with a $3,000 honorarium and a support package valued at over $23,000 including technical support for programming, installation and outreach as well as the SOMArts Main Gallery as the venue for their exhibition. SOMArts outreach includes creation of original content for the SOMArts website and social networks, listings in local media, a press release, and event announcements made with partner organizations. Curators/artists also gain valuable hands-on experience planning and executing an exhibition in a large and unique space in the heart of San Francisco, working in close consultation with the SOMArts team.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for The Commons Curatorial Residency?

A: Residency recipients must have a lead applicant who has lived in San Francisco or Alameda counties continuously for the two years prior to submitting their application. Additionally, this individual must be able to document a two-year history creating and presenting original artworks or cultural events to the public. Preference is given to proposals that demonstrate dynamic engagement with one or more of the Bay Area’s cultural communities. For the purposes of this application a cultural community is defined as a group of people who share traditions, ideas, beliefs, values and/or knowledge which constitutes the bases of social action. Individuals, groups, and collectives are all equally viable candidates to propose a curatorial project, as are new, emerging, or experienced curators and artists.

501c3 non-profit and fiscally sponsored organizations with operating budgets greater than $100,000 are not eligible to apply. Projects may not be part of the primary programming of an established 501c3 organization with an operating budget greater than $100,000.

Individuals who are currently students and/or will be students before June 30, 2017 are not eligible to apply.

Proposals will not be considered for one-person exhibitions, or exhibitions that are largely dependant on a general call to artists, or are inappropriately scaled for large size of the Main Gallery.

The lead applicant will be the primary contact for SOMArts. Applicants that have received a Commons Curatorial Residency within the previous two years are not eligible to apply again as lead applicants. Past recipients may participate as collaborators for a different project.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent via the online submission form by 11:59pm on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.

Q: When is the deadline for the application?

A: Full Applications (by invitation only, based on Letter of Intent) must be received at SOMArts no later than 5pm on Wednesday, November 25, 2015. Incomplete applications will be disregarded.

Q: How are proposals evaluated and selected?

A: Proposals submitted to The Commons Curatorial Residency will be evaluated and selected by a jury comprised of artists, curators and SOMArts staff based on criteria including:

  • Artistic quality of the work to be shown including evidence of creativity, innovation and/or technical skill;
  • Clarity, power and nuance of the curatorial concept
  • Capacity of the curator or team to carry out the proposed exhibition;
  • Viability of the project and budget;
  • Dynamic engagement with one of more of the Bay Area’s cultural communities
  • Vibrancy of proposed public presentations: ability to connect artists and audiences through multiple dimensions of participation and/or education

Q: My proposal includes a performance/readings/live music. Is it a good fit for the Commons Residency?

In a word, yes! Past Commons Curatorial residencies have included all of the above. However, keep in mind that the project must be suitable to a gallery exhibition. When the public walks into the gallery during regular hours the works on display should be engaging and reflect your curatorial vision. Most successful applicants include strong work samples of visual art in their applications, in addition to engaging ideas for public programming.

The resources for each residency typically allow for three public events: an opening reception, typically with an engaging activity for attendees, and up to two public programs in the Main Gallery space. Past programs have included workshops, screenings, readings, performances in the gallery, sharing of works-in-progress, and other cultural learning activities. If you have questions about whether your project is suitable please attend one of the information sessions.