OVERVIEW: The Getty Foundation only funds the arts, and most grants are awarded to art-related research, conservation, museums, and libraries. Most of the Getty money goes to established programs within the Getty museums, but well-established local institutions have a decent chance for funding as well.
FUNDING AREAS: Art and culture, museums, libraries, and art education
IP TAKE: If you can find a way to incorporate visual arts, art education, and historical preservation into one project, you're sure to catch the attention of Getty's staff. J. Paul Getty's dream was to find a way to merge the various art fields for public consumption.
PROFILE: It can get pretty confusing trying to navigate the various constituent programs of the Getty Trust. Aside from the grantmaking arm, the Getty Foundation, you've also got the Getty Conservation Institute, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. And if you've been in southern California for any amount of time, you're already familiar with the Getty Center's dramatic hilltop campus in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa's ancient Greek and Roman artifacts in the Pacific Palisades. J. Paul Getty started his career in the oil business and ended it with oil paint. He always thought of art as a way of civilizing people and believed that all people should have access to historic and modern works of art.
The Getty Foundation only funds the arts, so you'd better direct your education and health-care proposals elsewhere. Getty's board of directors and staff stay true to the donor's original intentions and keep funds flowing toward art-related research, conservations, museums, and libraries. While the trust was established back in 1953, the grant program has been around only since the mid-'80s. Even though the board is willing to send funds across state borders and overseas, they like to keep the money flowing to Los Angeles organizations as much as possible. However, unlike some other art-favoring foundations, Getty won't fund grants for operating costs, endowment purposes, start-up costs, construction, maintenance, or acquisition of artistic works.
Getty's funding priorities revolve around art history, access to art collections, conservation, and leadership. Each focus area is self-explanatory, and there are also research grants and fellowships that you can get your hands on if you're a distinguished artist, writer, or scholar. The foundation staff at Getty is large and segmented, so you'll likely get passed around a couple of times before you find the right person to talk to about getting funded. But when you're dealing with a foundation that has more than $11 billion in assets, a little hold time on the phone can be tolerated.
At the end of a recent year, the J. Paul Getty Trust reported over $11.9 billion in assets and more than $13.3 million in total giving.
Some of Getty's most significant art awards in Los Angeles have been part of the Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. collection, which is a series of grants supporting programs that coincide with exhibitions organized by the Getty Research Institute. As part of this grant series, Community Arts Resources Inc. received $160,000, A+D Architecture & Design Museum received $120,000, and Museum Associates of Los Angeles received $300,000. Not only are all of these recipients based in Los Angeles, but their program goals also align with Getty's commitment to studying and preserving modern architecture.
The Getty Foundation funds a good number of grants for professional development in Los Angeles, although these grants are significantly smaller. To train its artistic professionals, the Los Angeles chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts & Culture was awarded $4,000, and the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles was awarded $12,000. The Getty trust added 5,400 new high-resolution artwork images to its open content website, bringing the total to around 10,000 images. These images are free to download and are used for everything from art history promotions to mobile app reviews.
It's no secret that most Getty money goes to established programs within the Getty museums, research centers, and conservation institute. Aspiring scholars and fellows have the convenience of applying online for funds, but applicants for grants in the four focus areas need to stick their necks out with an introductory call or email. Direct your calls and emails to Anne Helmreich and Antoine Wilmering, senior program officers, at 310-440-7320 and GettyFoundation@getty.edu. If you can find a way to incorporate visual arts, art education, and historical preservation into one project, you're sure to catch the Getty staff's attention. Getty's dream was to find a way to merge the various art fields for public consumption, and the key to Getty's heart is balance.
- Thomas Gahtgens, Director, Getty Research Institute
- Deborah Marrow, Director, Getty Foundation
- Anne Helmreich, Senior Program Officer
- Antoine M. Wilmering, Senior Program Officer