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Governor's Awards for the Arts


A Special Note About the Governor's Awards for the Arts

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts have not been held since the fall of 2019 due to the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This event is a treasured tradition for the arts community of Pennsylvania, but it necessitates a great undertaking by the host community and ceremony location in terms of planning. In addition, the event is traditionally attended by a live audience and honorees must attend in person. 

To those individuals who submitted nominations for the awards, we understand that this is something that required time, consideration, and effort on your part. Please know that your submission will be carried over to the pool of nominations for consideration.

We hope that in the future we can again present this long-standing and often joyous Commonwealth event, which celebrates the contributions of outstanding Pennsylvania arts and artists. As we have more information to share in the coming months, we will be sure to keep the arts and culture community apprised as to the status of this event.

History of the Governor's Awards for the Arts

The 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 upon 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 four award categories:

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

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

Creative Industries Award - Recognizing outstanding contributions made by Pennsylvania's commercial creative industries. Such contributions may take a variety of forms, including supporting arts production, contributing to arts and cultural economic activity, or manufacturing instruments or tools integral to arts and cultural creation. 

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



2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts --Pittsburgh

Vanessa German: Artist of the Year

Roger Humphries, Sr.: Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

Joe Negri: Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

Rock Lititz: Creative Industries Award

Mary Brenholts: Arts Leadership & Service Award

To view photos from the 2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts, click here. 



2018 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Scranton

Tina Williams Brewer: Artist of the Year

Quiara Alegría Hudes: Distinguished Arts Award

C.F. Martin and Co., Inc.: Special Recognition for Advancing the Arts

Mira Nakashima: Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

Scribe Video Center: Arts Leadership & Service Award


2017 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Lancaster

Pepón Osorio: Distinguished Arts Award

Barry Kornhauser: Artist of the Year

George Junior Republic's Pointing the Way Program: Arts Leadership & Service Award

Ann Benzel: Patron Award

The Honorable J. Richard Gray & Mrs. Gail Gray: Special Recognition for Public Leadership in the Arts



2014 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Indiana

Jennifer Higdon: Distinguished Arts Award

Robert Qualters: Artist of the Year

The Andy Warhol Museum: Arts Innovation Award

Myron Hay Tomb, Esq.: Leadership & Service Award

Mark E. Pasquerilla: Patron Award



2013 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Harrisburg

Jerry Pinkney: Distinguished Arts Award

Beverlee and Bill Lehr: Patron Award

LIVE: Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Gracey: Arts Innovation

Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett: Artists of the Year


2012 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Erie


Peter Q. Bohlin FAIA: Distinguished Arts Award

Tom and Susan Hagen: Patron Award

Bruce Katsiff: Arts Leadership & Service Award

Jane Golden and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program: Arts Innovation

Susan Hale Kemenyffy: Artist of the Year


2010 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Philadelphia

Charles Dutoit: Distinguished Arts Award

Carole Price Shanis and Joseph Shanis: Patron Award

ArtsQuestOutstanding Leadership & Service in Arts for Youth

John Vanco: Pennsylvania Creative Community Award

Moe A. Brooker: Artist of the Year 

2009 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- York

Jeff Koons: Distinguished Arts Award

Louis J. Appell and Arthur J. Glatfelter: Patron Award

Caroline S. Nunan: Outstanding Leadership & Service in Arts for Youth

Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers: Pennsylvania Creative Community Awards


2008 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Williamsport

Michael Keaton: Distinguished Arts Award

Barbara B. Hudock: Patron Award

The PAL Center for the Arts Unit of The Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading & Berks County: Outstanding Leadership & Service in Arts for Youth

Taller Puertorriqueno Carmen Febo-San Miguel, M.D., Executive Director: Outstanding Leadership & Service in Arts in Education Award

Phil Woods & the Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts (COTA): Pennsylvania Creative Community Award

Sascha Feinstein: Artist of the Year


2007 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Gettysburg

Rob Marshall: Distinguished Arts Award 

Kathleen Marshall: Distinguished Arts Award 

Jennifer and David LeVan: Patron Award

Marcia Dale Weary: Outstanding Leadership & Service to Youth Award

Settlement Music School: Outstanding Leadership & Service to Youth Award

Pike County Arts & Crafts: Pennsylvania Creative Community Award

Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris: Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award)


2006 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Wilkes-Barre

Nelson Shanks: Distinguished Arts Award

Santo Loquasto: Distinguished Arts Award

Marlene O. "Linny" Fowler: Patron Award

Bradford County Regional Arts Council (BCRAC): Outstanding Leadership & Service in Arts in Education Award

The Dixie Hummingbirds: Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award)


2005 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Greensburg

Marilyn Horne: Distinguished Arts Award

Lloyd Alexander: Lifetime Leadership & Service in the Arts for Youth 

Francois Bitz: Patron Award

Sarah Tambucci, Ph.D.: Outstanding Leadership & Service in Arts in Education

Art Sanctuary and Asian Arts Initiative: Creative Community Award

Lonnie Graham: Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award)


2004 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Reading

Lang Lang: Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award)

Regina "Ginger" Gouger Miller and Marlin Miller, Jr.: Patron Award

Carole Haas Gravagno: Outstanding Leadership & Service in the Arts for Youth

Donna and Al Brown and the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center: Pennsylvania Creative Community Award


2002 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Harrisburg

M. Night Shyamalan: Distinguished Arts Award

Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest: Patron Awards

The Harrisburg Housing Authority's Cultural Arts Program: Arts Leadership and Service Award

Bob Dorough: Artist of the Year


2001 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Allentown

Wolfgang Sawallisch: Distinguished Arts Award

The Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation: Patron Award

WHYY, Inc. President and CEO William J. Marrazzo: Arts Leadership and Service 

Leon Bates: Artist of the Year 

2000 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Altoona

Chaim Potok: Distinguished Arts Award

Meyer P. and Vivian O. Potamkin: Patron Award

The Heinz Endowments: Patron Award

Lily Yeh: Arts Leadership and Service

LaVaughn Robinson: Artist of the Year


1999 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Harrisburg

Peter Nero: Distinguished Arts Award

Lois Lehrman Grass: Patron Award

Sunoco, Inc.: Patron Award

William E. Strickland, Jr.: Arts Leadership and Service

Thaddeus Mosley: Artist of the Year


1998 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Philadelphia

Patti LaBelle: Distinguished Arts Award   

Bell Atlantic: Corporate Award   

Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia: Arts Leadership & Service   

Robert Page: Artist of the Year


1997 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Pittsburgh

Ken Ludwig: Distinguished Arts Award

PNC Bank Foundation: Foundation Patron

Leon Arkus: Arts Leadership & Service 

Charlotte Blake Alston: Artist of the Year


1996 Governor's Awards for the Arts -- Harrisburg

Paul Winter: Distinguished Arts Award

Binney & Smith Inc.: Corporate Patron

Carol R. Brown: Arts Leadership & Service

Robert Montgomery Scott: Arts Leadership & Service

Tito Capobianco: Artist of the Year


Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Distinguished Pennsylvania Artists

1994 -- Lorin Maazel, Conductor
1993 -- John Edgar Wideman, Author
1992 -- Paul Plishka, Opera Singer
1991 -- Gary Graffman, Pianist
1990 -- August Wilson, Playwright
1989 -- Riccardo Muti, Conductor
1988 -- Judith Jamison, Dancer
1986 -- Andrew Wyeth, Painter
1985 -- Byron Janis, Pianist
1984 -- [Revoked]
1983 -- John Updike, Author
1982 -- Marian Anderson, Opera Singer
1981 -- James Michener, Author
1980 -- James Stewart, Actor

Theodore L. Hazlett Memorial Awards for Excellence in the Arts

Lester Breininger, Jr.: Crafts
Joan Myers Brown: Dance
Samuel Hazo: Literature
Sidney Goodman: Painting
Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.: Service to the Arts
Katherine Minehart: Theatre

Mitchell/Giurogola Architecture Anthony Buba: Media Arts
Max Rudolf: Music
Larry Fink: Photography
Charles Fahlen: Sculpture

Stanley Lechtzin: Crafts
Hellmut Fricke-Gottschild: Dance
Daniel Hoffman: Literature
Dorothy Dressler: Service to the Arts
Charles Fuller: Theatre
Henry Koerner: Painting

Linda Blackaby: Film/Video
Andre Previn: Music
Emmet Gowin: Photography
Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown: Architecture

Rudolf Staffel: Crafts
Paul Draper: Dance
Fred Rogers: Film/Video
David Bradley: Literature
George Crumb: Music
Larry Day: Painting
Mark Cohen: Photography
Rafael Ferrer: Sculpture
John Allen, Jr.: Theatre
Philip I. and Muriel Berman: Service to the Arts

George Nakashima: Crafts
Barbara Weisberger: Dance
Peter Rose: Film/Video
Paul West: Literature
Vincent Persichetti: Music
Andrew Wyeth: Painting
William Larson: Photography
Selma Burke: Sculpture
Margo Lovelace: Theatre
Gregory Gibson: Service to the Arts

Natale Rossi: Crafts
Arthur Hall: Dance
Dwinell Grant: Film/Video
Gerald Stern: Literature
Eugene Ormandy: Music
Edna Andrade: Painting
Ray K. Metzker: Photography
Harry Bertoia: Sculpture
Dr. Alvina Krause: Theatre
Sondra Myers: Service to the Arts