Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: As with most of the Getty-affiliated foundations, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation funds programs in the arts. The foundation provides annual campaign support, continuing support, and general operating support for performing arts, music, art education, and museum projects throughout the Bay Area.

FUNDING AREAS: Art, opera, symphony, museums, and art education

IP TAKE: The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation favors opera, symphony, and music institutions in the San Francisco area. These grants are hard to come by, but the foundation's education and community investment grants are a little more accessible.

PROFILE: Gordon Getty may be the son of the infamous oil baron J. Paul Getty, but he was always more of a music and wine kind of guy. Gordon and his wife, Ann, started the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation shortly after selling Getty Oil to Texaco for $10 billion in mid 1980s. Not to be confused with the Los Angeles-based Getty Trust Foundation, Gordon's foundation focuses on his personal passions of art and music in the Bay Area.


Gordon Getty always wanted to be an opera singer. Powerful families in the oil business don't typically consider the stage to be an ideal career path. However, Gordon's investments in mutual funds and investment firms, such as ReFlow Management and Forward Management, paved the way for a fortune that was pretty much a sure thing anyway. Gordon made a life for himself in music and in San Francisco. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and is a renowned classical composer. He and his wife have underwritten productions of the San Francisco Opera, and Gordon has composed several of his own operas, piano pieces, and choral works. But not all of Gordon's time has been tied up in oil and music. He also has financed five restaurants, a Napa Valley winery, a hotel resort, and several retail clothing stores.

Although Gordon is a man of many interests, his grantmaking is fixated on the arts. The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation provides annual campaign support, continuing support, and general operating support for performing arts, music, art education, and museum projects throughout the Bay Area. Some past grants include $1.25 million to the San Francisco Opera, $100,000 to the University of San Francisco, and $25,000 to the Saint Ignatius Prep School in San Francisco. In past years, the foundation has awarded more than 500 grants a year, ranging in size from $1,500 to $1 million. Preference is given to San Francisco-based art organizations, and the foundation likes to spread funds around rather than putting all its eggs in one basket.

For local organizations, the Getty Education and Community Investment Grants Program is perhaps the most accessible. You can apply for funding for in-school programs, after-school programs, wellness programs, early childhood programs, and even criminal justice programs through this focus area. These grants range from $10,000 to $40,000 on a yearly basis, and pre-applications are usually due by mid-August each year. Most of Getty's grants go toward well-established musical and educational institutions, but local Bay Area schools occasionally receive some awards as well.

The foundation doesn't have a website and doesn't publicize its grantmaking schedule or guidelines. It's run by a small board of directors and an even smaller staff. Interestingly, at the end of a recent year, the funder reported $620,840 in assets and $1,947,500 in total giving. Forbes estimates that Gordon Getty is worth about $2.1 billion. 

The foundation does not provide a clear way for grantseekers to get in touch, but the foundation's San Francisco office is located at 1 Embarcadero Center, Suite 1350.


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