Open Spaces Program - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Open Spaces Program

The Open Spaces Program supports temporary, place-based public art projects that resonate with communities in San Francisco and Oakland.

About The Open Spaces Program

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Open Spaces Program supports artist-driven temporary, place-based public art projects that resonate with communities. This grantmaking program funds projects at different stages of development that feature generative collaboration between artists, communities and nonprofit organizations to realize ambitious, risk-taking projects.

The Open Spaces Program prioritizes:

  • Visionary and timely projects that expand the boundaries of public art and support artists in advancing their practices.
  • Collaborations across various disciplines, diverse media and technology.
  • Projects that are relevant to and engage communities in Oakland and San Francisco.
  • Projects that leverage civic and neighborhood resources and cultural assets, including outdoor and nontraditional sites accessible by public transportation.
  • Compensating artists at a significant level.
  • Mutually beneficial partnerships between artists and collaborators.
  • Projects that are accessible to the widest possible audience, including historically underserved audiences.
  • Projects that are temporary in nature but are publicly accessible for at least a month.
  • Tracking outcomes and project evaluation.
Two people holding up a bright teal tarp while another dances underneath it.
NOW Hunters Point’s “An Intentional Shift” used site-specific performance to foster healing and justice at a former plant site in Bayview Hunters Point. It was supported by the Open Spaces Program. Photo credit: Amani Wade-Ng

Open Spaces Program At A Glance

  • Stage One applications will be accepted from May 13-June 10, 2024.
  • Applicants may apply for:
    • Development Support Grants, which range from $15,000-$20,000.
    • Production Support Grants, which range from $100,000-$175,000.
  • The Foundation hosted a pre-application workshop on Monday, May 20.
  • Stage Two full proposals (by invitation only) will be accepted from July 15-August 12, 2024.
  • Grant awards will be announced in December 2024.
  • The Grant Period is January 1, 2025 – December 31, 2026.

How To Apply

Eligibility Requirements

We accept applications that meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must demonstrate the capacity for effective project management, including facilitating community engagement, project promotion, documentation and evaluation. If applicable, demonstrated evidence of technical expertise, ability to obtain city approvals and permits and ongoing maintenance plan.
  • Bay Area artists or artist collectives may apply in collaboration with a Bay Area nonprofit partner or fiscal sponsor.
  • Bay Area nonprofits must apply in collaboration with a Bay Area artist or artist collective.
  • Nonprofit and fiscal sponsor partners must be able to make payments to artists and team members, maintain project financial records and if applicable, hold general liability insurance to indemnify the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and property owner.
  • If you are a return applicant who is re-applying for the same project, contact Arts Program Staff.
  • Open Spaces Program grantees who were awarded Production Support funding in 2022 are not eligible to apply in 2024.

Open Spaces Program funding does not support:

  • General operations.
  • A full season of programming.
  • Direct grants to individuals.
  • Construction, purchase or renovation of facilities.
  • Start-up organizations.
  • 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.

Grant Requirements

  • At least one-third of the grant funds must be designated to the artistic project team and their direct expenses for creating the work.
  • Prior to receiving funding, partner artist(s) and organization(s)/fiscal sponsor must draft and sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining each entity’s rights, roles and responsibilities in the project.
  • Production Support grants require in-person activities and project sites must be in San Francisco and/or Oakland.
  • Project activities must take place within the 24-month grant period: January 1, 2025-December 31, 2026.
  • Performances must have premiere dates after January 1, 2025.
  • Funding Levels: The Foundation strives to fund projects at the full request amount, however, given the competitive nature of the program, we commit to funding proposals at no less than 70% of the request amount.

Two-Stage Application Process

Before applying, review our frequently asked questions and contact Arts Program Staff with questions.

Stage One: Application

  • The first part of the online application is an eligibility quiz, which captures basic project information and directs applicants to the appropriate funding track and Stage One application.
  • The Stage One application uses questions from The Common Application for the Arts. If you are planning to copy and paste your information into our online system, note the word count limits as the system will not allow additional text beyond the set restrictions.
  • All materials must be submitted using GivingData, the Foundation’s online grants management system, during the application period window. You can preview Word versions of the development and production tracks.
  • All applications will be reviewed by Arts Program Staff. Selected applicants will be invited to advance to Stage Two and submit a full proposal.
  • Application Feedback:
    • Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be given feedback on their Stage One application.
    • We strive to provide feedback on declined Stage One applications, but due to the number of submissions we only guarantee feedback for declined Stage Two full proposals.

Stage Two: Full Proposal (By Invitation)

  • Applicants invited to submit a Stage Two Production Support full proposal will receive an honorarium and must attend a proposal development technical workshop in July.
  • A panel of artists, past grant recipients and public art specialists will review the full proposals and recommend projects for funding.
  • DataArts requirement:
    • The SMU Cultural DataArts Profile funder report will be optional for all applicants. However, grantees will be required to submit their DataArts funder report as part of their final reporting requirements. Applicants who currently have a DataArts profile are strongly encouraged to submit their funder report with their application.
  • Financial Requirements:
    • Project budgets will be required from all applicants. Applicants can elect to use The Common App project budget template.
    • We will only request financial statements (such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets) from applicants we recommend for funding.
  • Work Samples
    • We will only request work samples from applicants invited to advance to Stage Two full proposals.

Open Spaces Program Grant Tracks

Applicants can apply for one of two Open Spaces Program grant tracks:

  • Development Support Grants of $15,000-$20,000 fund projects in their initial stages over a 24-month grant period. In addition to the grant amount, grantees receive support to document their project and will be paired with an experienced public art advisor for the project’s duration. Development Support Grants fund the research, design and planning phases of a large scale, temporary public art project. Projects must feature a partnership and include community engagement activities to be competitive for funding. Note: being awarded a Development Support Grant does not guarantee receiving a Production Support Grant in a future year, however, it sets the stage for a strong Production Support Grant application.
  • Production Support Grants of $100,000-$175,000 fund the implementation of late-stage projects over a 24-month grant period. In addition to the grant amount, grantees also receive support to document their project and will be paired with an experienced public art advisor for the project’s duration. Production Support Grants fund the production and premiere of a temporary public art project that has been thoroughly developed and planned. Projects must feature strong, authentic partnerships as a vehicle for creating impactful temporary public art, include relevant community engagement activities and have a sustained public presence of at least a month to be considered for funding. Note: Production Support grants are highly competitive and we rigorously assess applications for the stated criteria.

Not sure what track your project falls into? Check out our frequently asked questions.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following:

  • Evidence of strong, authentic partnerships as a vehicle for creating and premiering groundbreaking temporary public art;
  • Timeliness and compelling nature of the project;
  • A meaningful understanding of the unique context of place and relevance to communities it seeks to serve;
  • Demonstration of a thoughtful approach to community engagement;
  • Rigor of past work;
  • The degree to which the project expands the boundaries of public art and supports artists in advancing their practice;
  • Demonstrated ability to successfully execute a complex project of this nature, including evidence of technical and logistical know-how (i.e., the staff, consultants, fabricators and engineers that will be involved; the strategy for permits and regulatory approvals, et);
  • Capacity to fulfill all grant requirements.


We encourage you to read through our frequently asked questions and contact Arts Program staff with any remaining questions. You can also learn more about projects that have been supported by the Open Spaces Program below.

Supporting Visionary Public Art

Click the icon in the top right corner below to scroll through a gallery of videos featuring Open Spaces Program grantee projects. Learn more about past grant recipient projects here.