Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Indiana to host state arts awards ceremony

by on February 27, 2014 11:00 AM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been named as the host location for a prestigious, statewide awards ceremony recognizing artistic achievement.

That ceremony, the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts, will be held Sept. 28 in Fisher Auditorium. The awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, are the state’s highest recognition given to those who have excelled in the arts.

Although the winners are not always household names, they are prominent and highly accomplished artists in their respective fields. This year’s winners are to be announced this summer.

Recognizable past winners include Fred Rogers, playwright August Wilson, actor Michael Keaton, author James Michener, film director M. Night Shyamalan and actor Jimmy Stewart.

“As the birthplace of Jimmy Stewart, the first recipient of Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts, Indiana holds special meaning for this occasion,” Pennsylvania first lady Susan Corbett said in a statement announcing the committee’s decision. She is the committee’s chairwoman.

“It’s a tradition that the host community is named the ‘Cultural Capital of the Commonwealth’ for the day, and Indiana’s vibrant arts community, the ongoing commitment to the arts demonstrated by the university, and the fact that we’re in Jimmy Stewart’s hometown makes this designation particularly appropriate.”

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts were first presented in 1980 in Harrisburg, where they were held each year until 1996.

Each year since, the ceremony has been held in a different location within the state. This is the first time the ceremony will be held on a university campus.

“I think that this is a strong endorsement of the great stuff we’re doing here with the arts,” said IUP President Michael Driscoll.

Some at IUP and others in the community had been trying to persuade the council to bring the ceremony here, and Driscoll said he believes the thing that finally tipped the scales in IUP’s favor was the Ren←e Fleming performance last March. The Corbetts attended that recital, which was held in Fisher Auditorium.

“I think that really showed off what we can do,” Driscoll said.

IUP plans to build a series of events around the ceremony to include the community in the spotlight.

Hank Knerr, director of IUP’s Lively Arts, said those events tentatively are to include an arts festival in the Oak Grove on campus, an art competition among local schools, open houses at some of the local galleries and studios, and a public reception to follow the ceremony.

As the host location, IUP will be responsible for organizing all of the events that surround the ceremony, as well as paying for them. Therefore, the university will be soliciting donations to cover the cost, Knerr said. And, he added, the university will be glad to undertake the effort.

“We’re very honored,” he said.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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