We celebrated the arts all week in Erie, leading up to the Governor's Awards for the Arts. On Thursday, for the first time, the Governor and First Lady of Pennsylvania held the awards here to recognize outstanding art and artist in Erie and the rest of the state.
"It gives the community an opportunity to showcase all the wonderful artists and art organizations that do everyday art in Erie," said First Lady of Pennsylvania Susan Corbett. "So we're really excited to bring the art awards to the Northwest for the first time."
Two of the awards given out tonight went to Erie natives. Supporters of the arts Susan and Tom Hagen were honored with the Patron Award. Also, Pennsylvania's Artist of the Year went to Susan Kemenyffy.
For Kemenyffy, the awards being held here means that Erie has come to a certain level of sophistication in the cultural life. As for her award, she says it gives her motivation to continue doing what she loves.
"I really think I need to keep working," said Kemenyffy. "So this award means its an accomplishment for the work to date, but there's a lot more to come."
Pennsylvania is the only state to have their art awards travel from city to city. Governor Corbett says its important for Pennsylvanians to see what other parts of the state have to offer.
"I think its very important for Pennsylvania to understand exactly what we have and for people of the nation to understand the great arts that we have and the acceptance of arts by the cities across Pennsylvania," said Governor Corbett.
Not everyone at the awards ceremony were happy to celebrate Erie being known as Arts Capital of Pennsylvania for the day. Some protestors used the governor's visit to town as a way to criticize the budget cuts. The acknowledged their remarks and continued on with why he was in town, and that was to of course celebrate the arts.