Curatorial Residency

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Please note: for individual artist opportunities throughout the year,  join the SOMArts eGroup or visit the opportunities page for regular updates.

SOMArts Cultural Center embarks on its sixth year of amplifying curatorial voices through the Commons Curatorial Residency Program. This 9-month incubator has supported a wide range of artists, curators and cultural communities ranging from Visions into Infinite Archives (Black Salt Collective, 2016), WorkMORE! #6 (Mica Sigourney, 2014) to Mourning & Scars: 20 Years After The War (Roxana Leiva, 2013), to Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze (Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art, 2011).

We seek:
Proposals from Bay Area individuals and collectives who reflect the Bay Area’s many dimensions of diversity including race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity & sexual orientation.

The strongest proposals will be able to articulate how their exhibition concept and communities engaged serve SOMArts’ 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.

We provide:
a $3,000 curator honorarium
publicity support including distribution of a press release
help with traditional and social media marketing
a set budget for gallery signage including vinyl
insurance up to $150,000 total for artwork while it is at SOMArts
physical assistance in preparing the space
an opening reception
assistance with up to two public events (such as a talk or workshop) connected to the exhibition

At this time we do not provide (or pay for):
transportation of artworks to SOMArts
installation construction

The first step towards receiving a SOMArts Commons Curatorial Residency is to submit a Letter Of Intent (LOI). The LOI stands as a preliminary view of the larger project and will be evaluated in consultation with an advisory panel of arts professionals, artists, and curators for full invitation.  Full proposal submission is by invitation only.

Before submitting an LOI, please read through all documents, including the FAQ and Letter of Intent Information & Guidelines carefully. Below is a list of Q&A sessions (online and in person) where artists can get help with the application.


Residency applications are no longer being accepted. This page is up for 2016–17 applicants to reference.  

The curatorial residency application window for 2017–18 will open next year around the month of October.


SOMArts staff is available to answer questions during the scheduled meeting times. Please review the following documents carefully before contacting staff with questions.

The following downloadable documents are for informational purposes: Letter of Intent Information & Guidelines,  Floor Plan, Work Sample Disclaimer & Statement of Intent and BudgetBudget is not required for LOI, but is required for the full proposal, if you are invited to submit one following the review of your LOI. 


Monday, September 21, 2015, 6:30pm to 8:30pm: In-person gallery tour with Question-and-Answer Session held at SOMArts. Come and see the facilities at SOMArts, get a sense of the gallery space, meet the SOMArts staff, and ask questions about the application process. RSVP required; click here to RSVP.

Tuesday, September 29 at noon and Wednesday, September 30 at 7:00pm: Online Info Sessions
 A virtual opportunity to talk directly to The Commons program organizers and ask any questions you might have about the application process. RSVP required; click here to RSVP and receive a link to the chat. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015: Computer assistance available from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. If you need access to a computer or technical assistance with the process, register to receive assistance on Saturday, Oct 3rd, 12PM to 2PM from Carolina Quintanilla in the Main Gallery at SOMArts, 934 Brannan St. San Francisco, CA (between 8th and 9th) by leaving Carolina a voicemail at 415-863-1414 xt 110. You must RSVP at least (3) business days in advance to participate (i.e. let us know by September 30th). 

Monday, October 19, 2015: Letter of Intent is due by 5pm.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: Selected applicants are invited to submit a full application.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015: Full applications are due via online submission by 5:00pm.

Monday, February 23, 2016: Artists invited to submit full applications are notified of the status of their application.

Exhibitions are typically on view for 4–6 weeks, and opening receptions take place on Thursday evenings, 6–9pm. Dates are subject to change, exact start and end dates are TBD. Once selected, SOMArts will work with the residents to attempt to meet their timing preferences.

2016 Commons Curatorial Residency #1
November–December, 2016

2017 Commons Curatorial Residency #2
January–February, 2017

2017 Commons residency #3
February–March, 2017


February 18–March 23, 2016 Timeless Motion

January 14–February 10, 2016 Visions into Infinite Archives

November 19–December 11, 2015 A Place of Her Own

March 24–April 23, 2015 DIS/PLAY Photos

February 12–March 14, 2015 Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art and Culture Project Photos 

January 8–February 4, 2015 Glamorgeddon: The Spectacle Photos 

March 29–April 24, 2014 | Work MORE! #6  |  Photos

February 22–March 22, 2014 | Hidden Cities |  Photos

January 14–February 13, 2014 | All Possible Futures |  Photos

April 5–26, 2013 | Dial Collect |   Photos

March 8–29, 2013 | Overturn the Artifice Photos

February 1–28, 2013 | Mourning & Scars: 20 Years After the War | Photos

July 6–28, 2012 | Performing Community | Photos

February 3–29, 2012 | At War  | Photos

November 4–30, 2011 | Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze | Photos

July 1–July 29, 2011 | The Book | Photos

April 8–28, 2011  |  Spread: California Conceptualism Then and Now  |  Photos

March 5–31, 2011 | Breathed…Unsaid… | Photos

February 4–24, 2011 | A Sensory Feast | Photos

November 5–30, 2010 | I Live Here: SF  | Photos