The Common App

Welcome to the Common Application for the Arts - Bay Area

This is a tool created by Bay Area arts funders to streamline the application process and save grantseeking artists and arts and culture organizations time and resources.

The Common App is intended to simplify the grant application process and, once completed, grantseekers can use the responses created in The Common App to submit applications for arts grants at multiple arts funding opportunities across the Bay Area as eligible. Questions asked in The Common App will match between 90-100% of those asked by the participating funders.

Fleishhacker Foundation
Gerbode Foundation
Intermusic SF
Kenneth Rainin Foundation
Theatre Bay Area
Zellerbach Family Foundation

To learn more about The Common App, and how to use when applying for upcoming grants, read the important FAQ below.

To get started on filling out The Common App:

  1. Download and save either:

  2. Enter your responses to the questions.
  3. Go to the individual funder websites to access their online grant application portals and copy your responses into the corresponding questions of their application forms per their upcoming grant deadlines.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Common Application for the Arts?

    The Common App is a new tool for artists, arts and culture organizations and fiscally sponsored projects seeking funding from several Bay Area arts funders.

    It is designed to make applying to multiple places simpler and faster.

    The Common App includes only the essential questions that the collaborating funders determined were necessary for them to make a grantmaking decision, and for artists and arts organizations to describe themselves and their project authentically.

    More than that, The Common App standardizes these questions so that all of these funders ask for information in the same way.

    Responses you provide to the questions asked in The Common App will match between 90-100% of the questions you will find if you apply to any or all of the participating funders.

  • Which Foundations and grant programs accept The Common App?

    The funders who have come together to standardize their application questions through The Common App, are:

    • Fleishhacker Foundation - Small Arts Grants Program
    • Gerbode Foundation - Special Awards in the Arts Program
    • Intermusic SF - Musical Grant Program
    • Kenneth Rainin Foundation - New and Experimental Works (NEW) Program
    • Theatre Bay Area - CA$H Grants
    • Zellerbach Family Foundation - Community Arts Program
  • Are the eligibility requirements for these funders the same?

    No. For descriptions of grant programs, eligibility, and guidelines for each funder, please refer to individual funder websites.

  • How does The Common App save grantseekers time and resources?

    In three ways:

    • First, The Common App only asks for information that has direct bearing on each funders’ ability to make a funding decision.
    • Second, having completed The Common App once, a grantseeker can copy and paste those responses into the application forms on the participating funder grantee portals, per their upcoming grant deadlines.
    • Third, you may use your own Budget forms or complete the shared Budget Template that all participating funders will accept. So, rather than reconfigure your project budget information for each funder, you can complete The Common App Budget Template once, and upload it to any/all of the participating funders. (Templates are available for both organizational and project budgets.)
  • Can a grantseeker complete The Common App and submit it directly to a funder?

    No. At this time, filling out The Common App does not serve as a grant application to all of the participating funders.

    Grantseekers who meet a particular funder’s criteria can copy their responses to The Common App questions and paste them into the corresponding questions on each funder’s online application portals/forms.

    Grantseekers will find that the word and character count limits in THE COMMON APP are identical to the ones you’ll find on the participating funder grantee platforms.

  • Is completing The Common App required to apply for funding from these Foundations?

    No. Downloading and filling out The Common App is totally 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 to them before applying to each funder in their own portal will hopefully save you time.

    The 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).

  • Do the questions in The Common App replace and supplant the funders’ separate previous arts grants applications?

    Yes. The questions in The Common App now match the questions asked in the grant applications for the participating funders.

  • Did these funders also agree to standardize the way they evaluate grant applications?

    No. While the participating funders will use standardized questions, each funder maintains its own priorities, guidelines, eligibility, and review process. This partnership does not combine grant programs or pool funds.

  • Why are these funders asking demographic questions about artists and organizational leaders?

    The collaborating funders are requesting demographic information about collaborating artists, organizational staff, and Board because collecting accurate information about who applies for funding is a critical step in advancing equity in philanthropic practice.

  • How will the demographic data be used?

    This data will help to build foundations’ capacity and improve their technical assistance support. The demographic questions in this application were developed in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

    It will not be used to determine eligibility, and no applicant will be excluded from consideration based on its responses.

    Demographic information will only be shared between funders in anonymized, aggregate form.

  • If I don’t have demographic data, or I don’t want to provide it, what happens?

    Nothing. You can opt out of providing responses, and it will not affect how your application is reviewed.

  • Why did the funders think creating The Common App would be a good idea?

    In response to research on how individual artists and arts organizations accessed arts funding during the height of the COVID pandemic, the collaborating funders determined that they should make the application process less time consuming.

    The goal with this first version of The Common App is to decrease barriers and increase accessibility, providing more opportunity for grantseekers to enter the process.

    Ultimately, The Common Application for the Arts will be successful if it:

    • saves grantseekers time
    • reduces the burden of the application process
    • provides transparency around grantseeking
    • creates greater consistency and efficiency in the application process
    • offers standardized budget formats
    • enhances coordinated outreach and communication about grant opportunities
  • Are other funders going to use The Common App in the future?

    Yes, that’s the plan. When The Common App first launched in 2023, there were three participating funders: the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. In 2024, three new funders opted to join in and begin using THE COMMON APP: the Gerbode Foundation, Theatre Bay Area and Intermusic SF.

    We hope that even more funders will join this effort, accept the information contained in The Common App, and streamline the grant application process even further.

    If you’re a grantmaker and would like to learn more about joining The Common App collaboration, please contact us:

    The College Common App took 40 years to get 1,000 colleges to accept it nationally - let’s hope we can get to 1,000 funders sooner!

  • Are the funders open to feedback about The Common App?

    Yes! Please let us know about your experience using this new tool and any suggestions you have for improving it.

    Send us your thoughts here:

    We launched the first version of The Common App in May of 2023, but know that we’ll be learning a lot about how it works as more people use it.

    The intention is to continue improving The Common App for the long term, making it easier to use, and inspiring more funders to join in and standardize their application processes too.


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