Erie’s no stranger to art festivals. Heck, the dust from Erie’s notorious Chalk Walk is still faintly visible on State Street, and strains of the Erie Art Museum’s Blues and Jazz Festival can still faintly be heard blowing through the wind. But the upcoming Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts – with a week of county-wide celebrations slated to begin on Sept. 16 – is in a league all its own.
It’s big. It’s statewide. And it’s the first time in the event’s history that Erie has been the host city.
The annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts was established in 1980 and serves as a statewide commemoration honoring outstanding individual Pennsylvanian artists, patrons of the arts, and arts organizations that contribute their artistic talents to their communities. Some of the 160 honorees from previous years have included big names like Patti LaBelle, Fred Rogers, and Rob Marshall.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts collaborates with a different host city to host the awards ceremony and an accompanying plethora of community art projects. The awards took a year off in 2011 for the first year of the Corbett administration, and in 2010, the awards were held in Philadelphia The framework of rotating the host city from year to year gives each Pennsylvania city a chance to show off its distinct artistic flair, said Philip Horn, executive director of Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.
“We have this basic concept here – the governor is coming to town,” Horn said. “And it’s up to the home community to figure out, okay, how do we make this our own?”
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