Why Should Bay Area Arts Organizations Care About Taube Philanthropies' Recent Give?

In an prescient post from earlier this year, IP's Ade Adeniji spelled out "Four Things to Know About Ted Taube's Philanthropy and the Taube Family Foundation." The four takeaways are as follows:

  1. The Belmont, CA-based foundation, which has allocated a little under $2 million in recent years to Bay Area organizations, is particularly keen on Jewish causes.
  2. A secondary area of interest is public policy—education reform, constitutional education workshops, etc.—that tend to veer right-of-center.
  3. The foundation also generously funds health care providers, like Gladstone Institutes, a biomedical research organization that aims to better understand, prevent, treat and cure cardiovascular, viral and neurological conditions.
  4. There's likely more giving in the future. (This is the prescient part.)

Ted Taube signed the Giving Pledge, meaning a majority of his fortune will go charity. And wouldn't you know it? The foundation recently announced a relatively unique gift in the arts sector—a $1.3 million matching challenge grant to the Berkeley Music Group to renovate the UC Theatre.

Now, we said this grant was "relatively unique," and there's two reasons for this. First, as previously noted, a majority of Taube's giving has gone toward the public policy and health sector, as well as Jewish causes. And while Taube has supported arts and culture outfits such as the San Francisco Opera Association and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the gift to the UC Theatre is novel because the recipients are based on the other side of the Bay Bridge. 

According to Shana Penn, executive director of Taube Philanthropies, the foundation usually supports projects in San Francisco. UC Theatre's an anomaly because the foundation believes it will help revitalize the Downtown Berkeley area. "(The UC Theatre will) bring in people who are really drawn to music of all kinds from all over the Bay Area," Penn said.

The gift also underscores two additional characteristics that fit Taube Philanthropies' funding profile. First, it likes to support renovation work and construction projects. The foundation has previously funded the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley, and UC Berkeley’s International House.

Second, the foundation understands the inherent power of the matching grant. Whereas a standalone grant may cause some recipients to rest on their laurels, the matching grant, by its very nature, motivates. As Penn notes, "Matching grants create incentive, more attention and legitimacy for a project."

Assuming the Berkeley Music Group—the nonprofit organization created to renovate the theater—can raise the matching funds, the project's $5.6 million price tag will be met. Planners hope that renovation work will be complete by November 2015.