The Kenneth Rainin Foundation awarded $810,000 to 32 small and mid-size arts organizations through our New and Experimental Works (NEW) Program. Funded projects uplift underrepresented voices, offer spaces for healing and ritual and challenge assumptions around disability justice, climate change and equitable art making. This grant cycle marked our first time using the Common Application for the Arts and a review panel selection process.
The NEW Program provides grants of $5,000-$30,000 to enable Bay Area artists to produce visionary works that are relevant to the communities they serve, advance their artistic practices and push the boundaries of dance and theater. Of the 32 awarded projects, 41% are first-time NEW Program applicants and 63% are first-time NEW Program grantees. We funded all projects at 100% of the requested amount because we understand the challenges artists and small organizations face in securing operational and project funding. Despite the pandemic’s lingering effects on performing arts, the projects embraced risk taking and expressed an authentic commitment to innovation.
A Simplified Application Process
The 2023 NEW Program application cycle was the debut for the Common Application for the Arts (Common App), a new tool to streamline the grant application process. The Common App was created by the Rainin Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation and Zellerbach Family Foundation in response to the arts community’s call for simplified application and reporting requirements. (Read more about The Common App’s goals and beginnings here.) To save artists and organizations time and resources, we also aligned our grant cycle with Zellerbach’s Community Arts Program fall grant cycle. This coordination allowed for jointly hosted pre-application webinars and for grantseekers to use the Common App for both programs. We will continue to refine the Common App to ensure applicant ease and efficiency in future NEW Program cycles.
Engaging Artists In The Selection Process
As we continue to advance equity and build mutually accountable relationships, we recognize the importance of shifting the power of grantmaking decisions to a more inclusive and transparent process. This cycle marked the first time the NEW Program used a panel to review and recommend projects for funding. We invited four Bay Area artists, all with authentic ties to the arts community and expertise in theater, dance and multidisciplinary work to participate in the selection process. In a day-long deliberation, the panelists engaged in thoughtful and meaningful conversation, ultimately recommending a dynamic and diverse slate of innovative and experimental projects.
The Rainin Foundation remains committed to ensuring diverse visionary artists are thriving in the Bay Area. We will continue listening and learning from artists and organizations and being responsive to community-defined needs.