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The Cultural Mafia

With maybe one exception (OK, New York, you win), no city offers quite the mix of world-class, cutting-edge, and passionately gonzo culture that San Francisco does. We have superstars, inventors of new art forms, indie theater champs, and, naturally, the country’s first transgender dance company. But who, exactly, are the leaders of this tight-knit, crazy-quilt scene? We canvassed dozens of film capos, theater consiglieri, and foot soldiers of literature, dance, art, and music to come up with this list of the 63 most influential impresarios, mentors, fundraisers, and visionaries.

Sean Dorsey

Gregg Perloff

Robert Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner

Michael Tilson Thomas

Jeffrey Fraenkel

Sylvia Lindsey

Deborah Cullinan

RAINMAKERS

Kary Schulman
DIRECTOR OF GRANTS FOR THE ARTS
The grande dame of arts funding, Schulman has controlled the purse strings of San Francisco’s arts stash for more than 30 years, fostering the birth and growth of major institutions like SFJAZZ and ODC. She’s also grown the fund to nearly six times the size it was when she first signed on—to $8.8 million last year.

Dede Wilsey
PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE FINE ARTS MUSEUMS OF SAN FRANCISCO
This is a woman who claims that single-handedly raising the $250 million necessary to build a new de Young was the most fun she’s ever had. Now, she has filled the museums’ calendars through 2014 with highcaliber exhibits that only she could have landed—including an October 2013 David Hockney show created specifically for the de Young.

John and Cynthia Gunn
CHAIRMAN OF THE SAN FRANCISCO OPERA BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND HIS WIFE
In June of 2011, in the midst of a down economy, the S.F. Opera won kudos around the world for a titanic undertaking: its presentation of Wagner’s famed four-part Ring cycle. And it wouldn’t have happened supporters John and Cynthia Gunn, who provided the single largest sum ever given by individual donors.

John E. McGuirk
PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR PERFORMING ARTS AT THE WILLIAM AND FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION
Hewlett-Packard magnate William Hewlett’s philosophy of never stifling a generous impulse is responsible for the foundation’s $14 million in arts awards each year—but it is grant maker McGuirk who has ensured a steady stream of worthy recipients. This cycle’s diverse portfolio encompasses everything from the S.F. Opera to the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project.

Robert Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner
COCHAIR OF SFJAZZ CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AND ORACLE HEIRESS
Eight years ago, the SFJAZZ Center’s first gala fundraiser brought in $210,000. Then Anderson stepped in—and, with his two cochairs, started making money for the Center hand over fist—to the tune of $64 million by now. Together with his wife, Miner, Anderson contributes major funding to everything from the San Francisco International Poetry Festival to Litquake.