Text by: Carren Jao
Illustration by: Jessica de Jesus
Edited by: Elisa Huang
Published: 18 Oct 2012, GOOD
In 1992, the J. Paul Getty Trust was doing some soul searching. A renowned arts organization in Los Angeles, it was established by oil billionaire John Paul Getty in 1953. It includes a grants organization, arts research facilities, a conservation institute, and a museum housing Getty’s extensive collection of Greek and Roman art in the hills of Malibu.
“We were still building the Getty Center at the time, and we had been talking a lot about what our relationship to the city would be once we moved,” says Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, which is the department that administers arts grants. (The Getty Center is now the Getty’s main museum perched on 110 acres in the Santa Monica mountains).
Then the L.A. riots happened. The acquittal of LAPD officers caught on video beating Rodney King lit a fuse in a community. The city was engulfed in chaos. At heart of it all was the highly-charged question of race and how diverse communities fit together.
“[The riots] really accelerated our thinking and our urgency about making a difference,” says Marrow. How would the institution be part of the communities around it? In the past decade alone, the county’s white population had slipped from 53 to 41 percent as the Hispanic and Asian population climbed to 38 and 10 percent respectively.
“We realized that audiences are changing, but what about the staffs of the cultural institutions? They weren’t very diverse with the exception of culturally-specific institutions,” says Marrow. [read more]