NEW Program FAQs - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

NEW Program FAQs

Explore frequently asked questions about our NEW Program, which supports dance, theater and multidisciplinary arts organizations.


Which Foundation grant program is the best fit for my organization and project?

We ask that interested applicants carefully read the guidelines and eligibility requirements for each grant program before submitting an application for review. If after reading the requirements you still have questions, contact ourArts Program Staff. 

What type of organizations are eligible for Foundation funding?

Organizations eligible for funding include nonprofit organizations and individual artists or projects with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor. Applicants must operate in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Contra Costa or Santa Clara counties. The Foundation prioritizes support for projects that take place in San Francisco and Oakland. For further questions pertaining to eligibility, contact ourArts Program Staff.

What type of projects or organizations are not eligible?

We are unlikely to fund predominantly music-focused projects, including musicals, operas and/or other musical performances. The Foundation does not fund:

  • Restagings of works that have already premiered in the Bay Area
  • Direct assistance to individuals or individual sponsorships
  • Nonprofits not located and operating primarily in the United States (except for medical research)
  • Start-up organizations (except for medical research)
  • Sports, athletic events or league sponsorships
  • Advertising or promotional sponsorships
  • Deficits or retroactive funding
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Organizations that discriminate based on religion, race, sexual orientation or gender

The Foundation directs its support for capital projects through its partnership with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

Will the Foundation consider my application if my organization or project is not proposed to take place in San Francisco or Oakland?

Yes, we will consider your application. The Foundation is interested in continuing to foster a thriving arts ecosystem across the Bay Area and accepts proposals from organizations in six counties, including: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. However, the Foundation primarily funds projects taking place in San Francisco and Oakland. We strongly recommend that organizations with projects taking place outside of San Francisco or Oakland contact us to further discuss the proposal’s alignment with the Foundation’s priorities. For any further questions pertaining to eligibility, contact our Arts Program Staff.

Can I collaborate with artists outside of the Bay Area on my project?

Yes, you may collaborate with artists outside of the Bay Area. However, the majority of artists supported, produced and presented by the project must be based in and/or have a demonstrated history of producing in the Bay Area (i.e., Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo or Santa Clara counties).

Does the NEW Program exclusively support world premieres of original works?

The NEW Program supports both new and experimental works. This includes the creation of new performance work and/or restagings of contemporary theatrical productions. Please note that only restagings that have not had a Bay Area premiere will be considered. While the Foundation’s priority is to support Bay Area artists and to highlight local voices in the process, we accept applications from local organizations for work that originates from outside of the region.

I am a current Rainin Foundation grantee, am I eligible to apply?

Existing NEW Program grantees must complete their previously funded projects in advance of applying for an additional NEW Program grant. If your project is complete but you haven’t submitted your grant report and are interested in applying, contact our Arts Program Staff.

If your previously funded project was converted to general operating support, you are eligible to apply. Current Open Spaces Program grantees should discuss eligibility with Arts Program Staff.

The Common Application For The Arts

What is The Common App?

The Common App is a new tool created by three Bay Area arts funders to streamline the application process and save grantseeking artists and arts and culture organizations time and resources. The information asked for on The Common App is the same information requested on the NEW Program grant application form in GivingData, our grants management system. If you have completed The Common App, you will copy your responses into the corresponding questions in our application form. Preview a PDF of The Common App here.

Do I have to use The Common App PDF form?

Downloading and filling out The Common App is optional. The Common App contains the questions you’ll see on multiple applications in one place. Viewing these questions in The Common App and crafting your responses before applying to each funder in their own portal will, hopefully, save you time. You may either complete the application questions in the form in our application portal, GivingData, or if using The Common App, copy your responses into the corresponding questions (both options ask for the same information). Funders will never know whether someone used The Common App tool first before submitting an application on a funder’s portal (unless you opt-in to providing feedback).

Can I use an application submitted to any other funder for the project I’m seeking support for from the Rainin Foundation’s NEW Program?

No, all applicants must complete and submit an application through our portal. Our application has been revised to match The Common Application for the Arts in partnership with the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Fleishhacker Foundation. You can download and preview a Word version of the application as it appears in our grant application portal.

Application Process

Does the Foundation accept application materials by regular mail or email?

As part of our commitment to the environment, the Foundation does not accept printed materials by regular mail. All applicants must apply through GivingData, our online grants management system. You may access our online application through our website on the opening date of each Letter of Inquiry period.

Can I copy and paste my application into the online system?

Yes, please note the word count limits in advance of preparing your application, as the system will not allow additional text beyond the set restrictions.  You can download and preview a Word version of the application as it appears in our grant application portal. If you are working on the application outside of the system, we highly recommend leaving yourself ample time to copy and paste your application.

Is a DataArts Funder Report required to apply?

The DataArts funder report will be optional for all applicants for the 2023 NEW Program grant cycle. However, grantees will be required to submit their DataArts funder report as part of their grant requirements. The Foundation values DataArts as a vital resource for the arts sector and as a tool for arts organizations to make data informed and strategic decisions about their work. Applicants who currently have a DataArts profile are strongly encouraged to submit their funder report with their application.

The Foundation will waive this requirement for organizations with annual budgets under $50,000 and for fiscally sponsored organizations applying to the NEW Program for the first time and that do not currently have a DataArts profile or funder report.

The Foundation reviews all financial documents and occasionally follows up with applicants on additional questions.

Should fiscally sponsored organizations create their own profiles in the online system?

Yes, fiscally sponsored organizations need to create their own profile and should not apply using their fiscal sponsor’s profile. Fiscally sponsored organizations will need to upload their fiscal sponsor’s 501(c)(3) determination letter to create their profile.

Budget & Expenses

What financials do I need to submit with my application?

Project budgets will be required from all applicants. However, we will only request applicant financial statements (such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets) from applicants we are recommending for funding. Applicants can elect to use The Common Application project budget template.

What expenses count towards the one-half artist fee budget requirement?

The Foundation values compensating artists for their work. The one-half artist fee budget requirement may include artist’s direct expenses for creating the work such as materials, supplies, equipment and travel in addition to payments to artists involved in the development, creation and execution of the project. The Foundation does not have a strict definition for which artists can count towards the requirement; however, they should be central to the successful execution of the project. For example, in addition to artists such as choreographers, playwrights, and performers, lighting and costume designer fees may count towards the requirement. If you have further questions about this requirement, contact our Arts Program Staff.

What expenses can be covered with the remaining one-half of grant funds?

The Foundation trusts that applicant organizations are committed to the successful execution of proposed projects. Apart from the minimum one-half artist fee requirement, the remaining one-half of grant funds are meant to be flexible support for the applicant organization. These grant funds may be used towards artist fees, project expenses (both direct and indirect, such as administrative overhead) as well as general operating needs of the applicant organization. If you have further questions about the appropriate use of these funds, contact Arts Program Staff.

Can I apply for more than 50% of my last closed fiscal year budget?

If your annual budget was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and/or fluctuates due to your presentation schedule and you would like to apply for more than 50% of your last closed annual budget, you can submit a budget from the last three years that is more representative of a production year and base your request off that budget.

Our annual budget is less than $10,000. Are we eligible to apply?

Organizations with annual budgets under $10,000 for the last closed fiscal year are not eligible to apply. NEW Program grants range from $5,000 – $30,000, The grant amount requested cannot exceed 50% of the organization’s budget for the last closed fiscal year.

If your last closed fiscal year budget does not meet this requirement, but you have had an annual budget of at least $10,000 within the last three years, please submit that prior year budget with your application.

How does the Foundation define small and mid-size organizations?

The NEW Program supports small and mid-size dance, theater and multidisciplinary arts organizations. We base this on the annual budget of the applicant organization. Small and mid-size organizations’ annual budgets range between $10,000 and $2 million. Organizations must have an annual budget of at least $10,000 in order to be eligible to apply. If your organization’s annual budget is over $2 million and you are interested in applying, contact our Arts Program Staff.

Artistic Discipline

Is the Foundation’s NEW Program available only to dance and theater organizations?

The Foundation primarily funds dance and theater organizations. Occasionally the Foundation funds organizations not rooted in dance or theater that produce innovative, multidisciplinary performances. However, multidisciplinary projects must demonstrate that they are authentically grounded in dance and/or theater to be eligible for support. Contact our Arts Program Staff to discuss proposals that fall outside of our funding criteria.

Does the NEW Program provide support for music-focused projects?

The Foundation is unlikely to fund predominantly music-focused projects through the NEW Program, including musicals, operas and/or other musical performances. However, many of the projects supported through the NEW Program incorporate musical elements.