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Hewlett Foundation Golden Anniversary: an $8 Million Present to Bay Area Arts

January 10, 2017

With a meaningful and generous twist on the tradition of receiving gifts on a birthday, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is marking its 50th anniversary by giving millions of dollars to artists and arts organizations.

The announcement today from John E. McGuirk, the foundation’s program director for performing arts, says an $8 million initiative is established “to enable Bay Area nonprofits to work with outstanding artists from around the world to create 50 new works of performing art of exceptional quality and enduring value and premiere them in local communities.”

Details of the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions are published on the foundation’s website, and there will be an introductory webinar, beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, Jan. 26. Nonprofit organizations should submit a brief letter of inquiry describing the proposed project by April 14, 2017. The most competitive applicants will be asked to complete an in-depth proposal for their project this summer. Recipients of the first 10 commissions will be announced in November.

“This five-year initiative,” says McGuirk, “aligns with our longstanding commitment to providing diverse Bay Area audiences with access to world class performing arts experiences. It is our hope that the new works created will go on to inspire, engage and challenge audiences across the country and around the world in years to come.”

Nonprofit organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma counties) may apply for the grants. Grants will go to music composition in diverse genres including, but not limited to, jazz, world music, symphonic, contemporary, and choral music, as well as folk and traditional music. (Future years will focus on other performing arts disciplines: theater, dance, folk and traditional arts, and film and media.)

“We’re excited about providing local nonprofit organizations with this opportunity,” says the announcement, “to engage an exceptional artist in developing new works in the performing arts that will speak directly to our diverse Bay Area communities.”

Since its beginning, the Hewlett Foundation has supported performing arts “because we believe that art is critical to fulfill human potential and to create thriving communities.” San Francisco Classical Voice is among the foundation’s many beneficiaries, its very beginning in 1999 made possible by major contributions from Gordon Getty and the Hewlett Foundation. SFCV’s Hewlett grant was renewed even during the Great Recession that began in 2008 and reduced charitable contributions elsewhere. 


Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].