Gallery Row, Pre-Party Thursday, October 26, 4-6 pm 


The 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts will take place at 7 p.m. on October 26 at the Lancaster County Convention Center. Information about local events that will take place leading up to the public ceremony can be found here. The awards ceremony and reception following are free and open to the public. 

Click here to confirm your attendance at the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts:

2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts recipients, who will be honored at this year’s ceremony:

Pepón Osorio, Philadelphia – Distinguished Arts Award:  an internationally-recognized visual artist whose work includes large-scale installations inspired by personal and community experiences. He is the Laura Carnell Professor of Community Art at Tyler School of Art/Temple University and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Barry Kornhauser, Lancaster – Artist of the Year Award: Nationally-recognized playwright, director, and educator, whose works have been performed nationally and internationally and commissioned and produced by renowned theatre festivals and Tony Award-winning theaters.

Ann Benzel, Hollidaysburg – Patron Award: Dedicated arts advocate and patron of the arts who has served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania.

George Junior Republic (GJR) Pointing the Way Program, Grove City – Arts Leadership & Service Award: An award-winning public/private art partnership program linking art making with the community. GJR is a private, nonprofit residential treatment community for at-risk, delinquent, and dependent youth. Communities across western Pennsylvania have worked with GJR to complete and install more than a dozen sculpture projects to-date, through which participating GJR students gain a broad range of life and cognitive skills.

The Honorable J. Richard Gray & Mrs. Gail Gray, Lancaster – Special Recognition for Public Leadership in the Arts: Visionary public leader who, together with his artist wife, has implemented a path and process for Lancaster that has transformed the city into a thriving arts destination, coupled with modern amenities—welcoming visitors, enriching the lives of residents, and providing an environment that nurtures many artists and performers.


Governor’s Awards for the Arts represent a Pennsylvania tradition begun in 1980 by Governor Dick Thornburgh. Presented annually in Harrisburg at the State Capitol, these awards honored artists in each of the following categories: painting, sculpture, photography, music, literature, dance, theatre, crafts, and media arts. An award was also made for “service to the arts.” The awards, which recognized Pennsylvanians who contributed their creative talents to their communities, were named the Hazlett Memorial Awards for Excellence in the Arts, after the late Theodore L. Hazlett Jr. of Pittsburgh, the first chairman of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The awards were administered by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A Distinguished Pennsylvania Artist Award was also established to be chosen by the Governor. [Note: No standard policy was established for this category, but it was generally agreed that the recipient would be a native Pennsylvanian and an artist of world renown.]

Following the 1982 awards, the Hazlett awards were presented in no more than six disciplines, in alternating years, and architecture was added as a category.

The awards were suspended in 1987 in the first year of Governor Robert P. Casey’s administration. In 1988, through his cultural advisor’s office, Governor Casey established “a comprehensive Governor’s awards program” with the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences “to honor outstanding individual creativity and achievement, to focus attention on the critical importance of the arts, humanities, and sciences in the life of an enlightened democratic society, and to pay tribute to Pennsylvania’s rich cultural and intellectual traditions.” A single award was presented in each area.

In 1996, oversight and administration of the Governor’s Awards returned to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Four new award categories were established by Governor Tom Ridge to recognize not only the contributions of Pennsylvania’s individual artists and patrons of the arts but also the outstanding arts organizations which make the Commonwealth a leader in the cultural life of the nation. For the first time, a category was established which recognizes the significant contributions to the arts made by corporations and foundations (the Patron Award).

Please note that the Governor’s Awards for the Arts did not take place in 2015 or 2016. It is customary for a new gubernatorial administration to use the first year in office to consider changes to the event that will reflect the administration’s interests and priorities, including but not limited to award categories. For this reason, the Governor’s Awards for the Arts also did not occur in 1987, 1995, 2003, or 2011.

Currently, the Governor’s Office has developed five award categories:

The Distinguished Arts Award recognizes a Pennsylvania artist of international fame, leadership or renown whose creations or contributions enrich the state.

The Patron Award recognizes an individual, corporation, or foundation patron’s significant contributions to the vitality and availability of the arts in Pennsylvania.

The Arts Leadership & Service/Arts Innovation Award recognizes an organization or individual(s) for outstanding leadership and service or innovation in the arts.

The Artist of the Year Award (The Hazlett Memorial Award) recognizes an individual artist for their creations and contributions to the excellence of the arts in Pennsylvania.

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