AIRspace was founded in 1987 at the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, which was dedicated to supporting queer and trans artists of color and people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2007, after the close of the Sims Center, the program was transferred to SAFEhouse and operated as a no-frills residency for queer artists. In 2015, the program was put on hiatus for 2 years, while SAFEhouse shifted to a cooperative organizational model and secured a new facility in the Tenderloin’s newly created Transgender Cultural District.  In 2017, SAFEhouse re-launched AIRspace as a hybrid fellowship/residency, actively seeking to invest in queer artists of color in areas of equity and arts leadership.  The current members of the SAFEhouse cooperative have recognized that, while the programs have been open to all, the primary demographic of participants has been white or white-presenting artists and the few artists of color have reported a sense of isolation. In the year 2017, it is not enough to say these programs are open to everyone and wonder why there are few folks of color participating in the organization. To that end, SAFEhouse is redesigning AIRspace to place Queer and Trans artists of color in leadership positions.



AIRspace fosters professional development for emerging queer artists of color and trans artists of color through engagement of administrative staff, curatorial decisions, and meetings with the board of directors at SAFEhouse Arts. AIRspace sustains the artistic practice for emerging queer artists with artist residencies aimed to produce new work.  AIRspace develops artistic community with professional development training and workgroups.



The AIRspace Queer Arts Leadership Residency is a 12-month paid residency for QTPOC performing artists to connect and share work with each other at SAFEHouse Arts, a traditionally dance-centered performing arts cooperative program based in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. The hybrid fellowship/residency combines arts and equity leadership training and administrative experience with rehearsal space and performance opportunities to experiment, test, and produce work. The intention of this residency is to cultivate and empower queer & trans artists of color to grow professionally and creatively through consistent meetings, work and knowledge sharing, group critique and professional development as a means to develop a sense of ownership of the organization of SAFEhouse.  There will be quarterly opportunities to apply for small amounts of funding to support a work or project.  Fellows rotate through 3 areas critical to the organization.  This is an opportunity to contribute their perspective and gain insight and knowledge into decision making at administrative, programming, board levels.  


Fellows will spend 3 months in each of the following positions:
Board Fellow- contributes to board level decision making and governance as a voting member. (monthly meeting)
Management Fellow- contributes operations and management decisions with lead artists (monthly meeting)
Curation/Programming Fellow- curator & programming lead for one work-in-progress showcase, community activation, a social art activity & blog post. (meetings may vary)


10~15hrs/month participation commitment. (This includes individual fellow responsibilities AND participation in the SAFEhouse cooperative structure.) 

  • Monthly meetings
  • Mandatory Community Days
  • Work Groups (as needed) 
  • Constructive feedback on fellow related meetings and duties capturing their observations, questions & insights 



  • Presenting 3 work in progress showcases
  • 3 community activations 
  • 3 social art activities 
  • a Critical Feedback Report based on the collation of constructive feedback with the support of the Program Leadership



  • 3 hours of rehearsal space per week
  • Keys - 24-hour access
  • Monthly Coaching/Creative Planning Sessions
  • Quarterly Professional Development Workshops
  • Performance opportunities
  • Publicity and technical support
  • 3 AIRspace showcases
  • Small funding opportunities
  • Connection to 2 festival opportunities (National Queer Arts Festival & SAFEHouse Performance Fest)
  • Creative community to share and get feedback to develop their work
  • A place to dream big, test ideas, start a teaching practice or just connect and play in the studio
  • A modest performance stipend (In the pursuit of equity othered bodies are often called on to provide invisible emotional, mental, or cultural competency labor that often goes unrecognized.) 
  • A documented Performance Showcase/Graduation





Must self-identify as a queer or trans person of color with a history of performance. 
Must commit to actively engaging with the fellowship and organization for the full 12-months, including monthly meetings and participate in the quarterly evaluation.


Drag queens. Urban & Club dancers. Ballet Dancers. Theater Geeks. Storytellers. Spoken word poets. Hip-hop artists. Choreographers!!!
We are not interested in limiting the possibilities of this residency for QTPOC performing artists, but SAFEhouse is rooted in dance. Other types of performing artists should consider the potential impacts on their work and the benefits or disadvantages of making working within a dance community. That being said, a strong artistic vision and the desire to realize work and participate in a cooperative arts organization are the top priorities.




All dates in this timeline are mandatory and will be reviewed on the November Community Day.


Applications open: September 30th
Applications close: October 31st
Notification: November
November 24th, 2019- Community Day 
February 29th, 2020- Community Day
May 16th, 2020-Community Day
August 29th, 2020- Community Day
Fall West Wave Festival
November 17th, 2020- Community Day Celebration