Submit your proposal by Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 5pm PST


Now in it’s eleventh year, the Curatorial Residency provides curators with production support, professional development and mentorship to execute a large-scale exhibition in SOMArts’ Main Gallery. The residency is designed to offer emerging and mid-career artists and curators tools to further their curatorial practice and explore timely social issues.

The strongest proposals are those who serve SOMArts’ mission of leveraging the power of art as a tool for social change.

ARTISTS/CURATORS SELECTED RECEIVE 9 months of access and support from SOMArts’ experienced staff and local artists and curators to mount a large scale 4 week exhibition and community engagement activities in SOMArts’ Main Gallery during one of the following exhibition dates:

Friday, March 12–Tuesday, April 20, 2021*
Installation: March 1-6. Deinstallation: April 21

Friday, July 16–Tuesday, August 24, 2021*
Installation: July 6–10. Deinstallation: August 25

*Dates are not flexible. If you have questions contact [email protected]

Community engagement activities may include work–in–progress events, panel discussions, talk–back sessions, artist talks, gallery tours, educational forums or other activities to highlight an artist’s work and engage audience.

SOMArts also offers :

  • A $5000 project grant
  • $1000 supplies budget
  • Installation support
  • Technical & event production support
  • Community engagement & public relations support
  • Monthly workshops (January–July)

Curatorial Residents must be available to attend an advocacy or donor cultivation event and must submit a final report within 60 days of project completion.


Displacement in San Francisco has disproportionately affected communities of color and is largely affecting artists and curators ability to live and work in the Bay Area. This has made it urgent for arts organizations locally and in urban cities everywhere to be clear and intentional about making accessible pathways into the arts.


This residency positions curators as catalysts for critical dialogue and exhibitions as a method with the potential for cultural change. Cultural production is explored in the monthly workshops through Allyson Tintiangco–Cubales’ Critical Cultural Framework as a method to understand and ground curatorial decisions around artists and artwork selection, floor plan design, and programming.

The framework defines culture as the way of being, doing, and seeing the world that makes up a code of conduct. The framework offers three critical ways to understand culture:

  • Cultural past/preservation looks at the history and practices of a topic or community. It privileges cultures and customs that have been silenced while also being critical of the purpose of cultural practices.
  • Critical cultural production/growth challenges the notion that culture is static and production is reserved for the elite. It calls curators to challenge essentialist notions of identity, provide social commentary, and use art as a form of activism.
  • Cultural power/wealth asks what the cultural politics are and identifies the relationship between the dominant cultural hegemony and cultural practices. It uses cultural wealth to counter hegemony, through cultural work and cultural activism.


Submit a proposal here.
Deadline: Monday, November 25, 2019, 5pm.

Online Q&A
Monday, November 11, 2019 7:00–8:00pm
An opportunity to talk to the residency organizer online and ask any questions you might have about the application process or the residency. If interested, email Carolina Quintanilla at [email protected] to RSVP.

In person Q&A at SOMArts
Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 3-4pm
Applicants will be notified of the results of the preliminary review by January 18, 2019. Email Carolina Quintanilla at [email protected] to RSVP.

You may hear from us the week or two after the deadline with application questions. Please look out for an email from us in late November-early December.


November 11, 7–8pm : Online Q & A
November 13, 3–4pm: In-person Q & A at SOMArts
November 25, 5pm : Application due
Week of January 27 : Email notification of application status


Proposals are evaluated by a selection panel of arts professionals, artists, and curators. This year’s selection panel includes

Cece Carpio, muralist and SFAC Galleries Manager
Maria Jenson, SOMArts ED
Matt McKinley, McKinley Art Solutions
Yetunde Olagbaju, artist & curator, 2018–19 curatorial resident
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, visual & performance artist, 2017–18 curatorial resident


  • Prioritizes applicants from communities who have been historically denied opportunities in contemporary art institutions.
  • Open to any individual, collective, group, or non-profit organization (lead applicant must meet all of the eligibility requirements). The lead applicant must be the primary point of contact for the project/proposal and this person may only be lead applicant on one proposal.
  • Must be based in or resides in San Francisco or Alameda County and has done so continuously for at least two years prior to the due date of the LOI.
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Applicants that have received a SOMArts 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.
  • Proposals will not be considered for one-person exhibitions, or exhibitions that are largely dependent on a general call to artists, or are inappropriately scaled for the 31,000 square foot gallery.
  • 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.
  • Full-time students at the time of the residency are discouraged because of the anticipated intense schedule during production but we are open for dialogue. Reach out to Curatorial Partnerships & Residency Director, Carolina Quintanilla at [email protected] with questions.

Selection Criteria
The selection is based on:

  • Eligibility
  • Alignment with SOMArts mission
  • 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 or 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.