Philanthropist John Paul Getty, KBE, will be recognized for his support of the Artists Rights Foundation when he receives the newly created Stewardship Award from the Artists Rights Foundation.
According to Elliot Silverstein, president of the foundation, the award was created to recognize people or entities that are not involved in filmmaking, but have demonstrated consistent support of the foundation’s mission.
Appropriately, Getty has been intimately involved with the foundation from the beginning, and he was the first non-filmmaker to do so.
According to Getty, if it weren’t for his friendship and esteem for the late director Fred Zinnemann, he never would have been introduced to the foundation. Zinnemann was key in bringing the two parties together.
“Fred was close to Mr. Getty and talked with him about the Artists Rights Foundation. He offered to contribute to its support,” Silverman says.
Getty acted as a consultant from the early days, giving the foundation valuable input about who should be on its board, Silverstein says. “When we were forming the philosophy, we did have conversations about the kinds of people who needed to be on the board and its ambiance. He was very articulate that these people should be those concerned with the preservation of the arts, and not just economic concerns of filmmakers. We have had regular contact since then and he’s made a substantial contribution to our efforts,” he recalls.
In addition, Getty’s financial support helped establish the foundation.
The Artists Rights Foundation was created in 1989 to protect films from reputation-damaging post-release alterations that include but are not limited to colorizing, formatting films to fit television screens, time-compressing films to fit in more commercial breaks and cutting significant portions of films to fit TV timeslots without informing the public about the extent of the omissions.
A life-long lover of film, Getty has demonstrated his passion for the medium in other ways. He is a longtime benefactor of the British Film Institute’s National Film & Television Archive, and he helped to establish a state-of-the-art film conservation and preservation center that bears his name. Getty also has given an endowment to London’s National Gallery, enabling the institute to make significant additions to its permanent collection.
Getty, the middle son of the late J.P. Getty, oilman and founder of the Getty Museum in Malibu, moved to England permanently in 1970 from Rome, where he had been helping to run Getty Oil. He splits his time between London and Buckinghamshire. Although Getty will be unable to attend the award ceremony, his son, Mark Getty, executive chairman of Getty Communications, will accept the award on his behalf.
“This kind of effort cannot succeed without intervention and support of people like Getty and members of his family, who are extraordinarily generous in the service of the public,” says Silverstein. “And we’re in service of the public if we are in the service of artists.”