The oldest, longest running residency program for queer performance in the United States, AIRspace was founded in 1986 by the former Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts (JSC) in San Francisco. When the JSC closed in 2007, SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts began curating the program, serving approximately twenty artists per year.
Over the last twenty-seven years, the program has served hundreds of emerging queer performance artists in the Bay Area and launched the annual National Queer Arts Festival, staged in partnership with the Queer Cultural Center.
AIRspace is a performing arts residency that supports the creation of new queer experimental theatre, contemporary dance, spoken word and multidisciplinary performance. By providing free rehearsal and performance space as well as critical feedback and artistic development opportunities for emerging LGBTQ artists in the Bay Area, we strive to strengthen and elevate queer Bay Area artistic voices, especially those artists that are least represented in the mainstream, including women artists, transgender artists and artists of color.
AIRspace is a performing arts residency that supports the creation of new queer experimental theatre, contemporary dance, spoken word and multidisciplinary performance by providing free rehearsal and performance space as well as critical feedback and artistic development opportunities for emerging LGBTQ artists in the Bay Area; especially those artists that are least represented in the mainstream including women artists, transgender artists and artists of color.
Founded in 1986 by the former Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts (JSC), AIRspace is the oldest, continuously running residency program for queer performance in the United States. When JSC closed in 2007, its Program Director, Joe Landini, founded SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts and brought AIRspace with him. As a program of SAFEhouse (aka The Garage), AIRspace has served approximately 20 artists per year, presenting many of these artists during the annual National Queer Arts Festival in collaboration with the Queer Cultural Center.
Artists participating in AIRspace have gone on to found their own nonprofits (e.g. KUNST-STOFF Dance), contribute to nationally attended festivals (such as West Wave Dance, San Francisco International Arts, Women on the Way and the San Francisco Fringe festivals) and present their work regularly at venues like ODC Theater, CounterPULSE, the Lab, and the Exit and Dance Mission theaters.
Although many nonprofits offer performing arts residencies, AIRspace is unique in that it is Bay Area’s only multidisciplinary performing arts residency for LGBTQ-identified artists – a surprising fact since San Francisco is frequently hailed as “GLBT mecca.” Additionally, most residencies require a certain level of accomplishment before artists can apply – AIRspace is the only residency for emerging artists with little previous experience and is designed to act as a starting point for launching successful careers in the performing arts.
Because AIRspace was designed to holistically nurture emerging artists, the three-month residency includes many components:
- Remuneration – $500 stipend
- Studio Time – four free hours of rehearsal time per week
- Marketing –Headshots/Performance stills, Web presence, Online social Media presence, print and online media calendar distribution, press contact and management,
- Administration – Project management, strategizing community involvement, managing mentorship and training
- Technical Support – lighting and sound design,
- Collaborative Mentorship – an in-progress showing in collaboration with other residents where artists receive critical feedback to strengthen their work,
- Staging – a two-night run at the Garage, SAFEhouse’s 49-seat black box theatre and high-quality performance documentation that can be used to leverage additional funding.
For the past six years, AIRspace has existed as a program of SAFEhouse, similar to our other residency program, Resident Artists Workshop (RAW). However, due to the recently increased interest in the program and the large volume of queer artists constantly seeking participation, SAFEhouse’s board of directors made the decision to expand the program as its own independent, fiscally-sponsored organization with strategic goals separate from SAFEhouse in June 2013. This decision was made so AIRspace could better address the unique needs of LGBTQ artists and dedicate more resources specifically for this underserved population.
Although this program has not tracked diversity historically, the current 10-person advisory board was recruited specifically to provide diverse leadership for the program and is currently composed of 60% people of color. This commitment to diversity is reflected in the artists we choose to participate in our programs – uplifting those segments of the LGBTQ community that are often silenced including women, transgender people and people of color.
AIRspace is most grateful for the support received by the following:
A community foundation rooted in and dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Horizons Foundation exists to:
Mobilize and increase resources for the LGBT movement and organizations that secure the rights, meet the needs, and celebrate the lives of LGBT people.
Empower individual donors and promote giving as an integral part of a healthy, compassionate community.
Steward a permanently endowed fund through which donors can make legacy gifts to ensure our community’s capacity to meet the future needs of LGBT people.
Zellerbach Family Foundation
The arts in all their variety are indispensable to the spirit and quality of life of the Bay Area. For over a quarter of a century, the Zellerbach Family Foundation has sought, through its community arts grants, to ensure the availability of a wide variety of art experiences, to promote multicultural community art, encourage new artists, and improve the capacity to perform and develop new audiences. The Foundation values the continued support of its Community Arts Fund by the Wallace Alexander Gerbode and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundations