The Commons Fund & Curatorial Residency: 2010 Call for Proposals

Please note: the Winter 2010 deadline for submissions to the Commons Curatorial Residency has passed. Updated guidelines for the next round will be posted in the fall. For information about other exhibition opportunities please email

SOMArts is requesting proposals for exhibitions in the Main Gallery for the September 2010 – August 2011 season. This request is open to artists, independent curators and arts organizations presenting contemporary work in any medium.

Please read through all documents carefully. Below is a list of Q&A sessions (online and in person) where artists can get help with the application. ALL PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED IN THE SOMARTS OFFICE BY 5PM ON FEBRUARY 17, 2010.

Click here to read the media announcement.

Or, download the application materials: Curatorial Residency RFP, Funding Application (optional), Residency Application Form and Checklist, required supporting documents (budget, disclaimer, floor plan)


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: to promote and nurture art on the community level and foster and appreciation of and respect for all cultures.

Q:  What can curators/artists gain through the Commons Curatorial Residency?
A:  Curators/artists are provided with a venue to stage an exhibition in the SOMArts Main Gallery.  Eligible applicants may apply for funding. SOMArts will supply some basic marketing for the exhibition—including postings on the SOMArts website, listings as one of the Flavorpill 50 in San Francisco, and event announcements through the San Francisco Arts Commission newsletter.  SOMArts also provides show postcards to publicize the exhibition, and anopening reception.  Curators/artists also gain a chance to experience of exhibiting in a large and unique space in the heart of San Francisco, and the benefit of mentorship and assistance from gallery and exhibitions program crew and SOMArts staff.

Q:  Who is eligible to apply for The Commons Curatorial Residency?
A:  There are no restrictions on who can apply to the Residency.  Preference is given to exhibitions that partner with local organizations, or that are relevant to the local communities of the greater Bay Area.  Individuals, groups, and collectives are all equally viable candidates, as are new, emerging, or experienced curators/artists. Exhibitors who wish to receive financial support from the Commons Fund must have a lead applicant who has lived in San Francisco continuously since February 2008 and meets the eligibility requirements in the application.

Q:  How do I apply?
A:  We request that applicants fill out all of the forms included in the application packet, which is available on our website.  This packet includes the following forms: Application Form, Exhibition  Proposal Form, Project Budget Worksheet, Proposed Exhibition Layout Worksheet and Work Sample Disclaimer & Statement of Intent.  We also ask that applicanst submit a Current CV/Resume, a Short Bio, Work Samples—up to 10 images or 5 min. video (CD or DVD format), and a Work Sample Index.  Completed application packets can be dropped of or sent to:

The Commons Curatorial Residency                  
Attn: Justin Hoover, Curator & Gallery Director
SOMArts Cultural Center
934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Q:  When is the deadline for the application?
A:  Applications must be received no later than 5pm on February 17th, 2010. For more dates, please see the Application Timeline below.

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 working artists and curators, and SOMArts staff.


Mid January: Call for proposals goes out

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 at 6:30pm: Community Support Board Meeting with Question-and-Answer Session held at SOMArts

Come and see the facilities at SOMArts, get a sense of the gallery space, meet some of the program organizers, and ask questions about the application process.

Wednesday, January 20th at 8pm and Friday, January 29, 2010 at 2pm: 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. Chat online, in real time, with SOMArts’s Executive Director Lex Leifheit, and Curator & Gallery Director Justin Hoover. If hyperlink does not work, paste this url into your browser:

Saturday, January 30th, 12pm to 4pm: Open Office Hours with SOMArts Curator & Gallery Director
Questions will be answered on a first come, first serve basis.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010: Application Deadline!

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010: Applicants are notified about the jury decisions