Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
2001 Arts Leadership & Service Award
Thank you, and a special warm thanks to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Governor Ridge for this wonderful recognition.
WHYY and I are honored to be the recipient of this year's 2001 Arts Leadership & Service Award. I stand here proudly on behalf of more than 125,000 WHYY Members who share our passion for using public broadcasting to create a showcase for Pennsylvania's rich cultural heritage and artistic expression.
We are also humbled to be in the company of remarkable people from this great Commonwealth. Our congratulations to Leon Bates, Dexter and Dorothy Baker and our good friend and partner Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch, who has led WHYY and the Philadelphia Orchestra in several landmark productions, including the our international four part Philadelphia Performs series.
We gather here to honor Pennsylvania's artistic excellence at a moment in time in our nation's history when it is clear that the only thing likely to stay the same is change itself. That's why we are enormously grateful to the Governor and his Council for taking these moments to reflect upon the continuing and positive role that the Arts play in our lives.
It is through artistic expression that each of us as Pennsylvanians can find common ground and discover richer meaning in life-especially in these most difficult of times.
Some may find it easy to dismiss the arts as a mere diversion from important, serious matters of state and national security. However, at WHYY we have argued that for all the value of its hard infrastructure a community without cultural arts opportunities is a community without soul! This has perhaps been most eloquently illustrated in the hours and days following the September 11 attacks as we are comforted, as artists and audience alike, in the use of artistic expression to chronicle world events, heal our pain and inspire our belief in life's full promise.
Ladies & Gentleman, my colleague's and I at WHYY gladly accept this recognition tonight not only for the work we have already done but as a challenge to do even more to extend the value of Pennsylvania's artistic community to each citizen and the nation.
Governor, you too have recently accepted a challenge. Our President has called you to serve at a crossroads in our nation's history. All of us as Pennsylvanians could not be more proud of you. We know that you are fully up to the task at hand ... but, you, too, are first and foremost a Pennsylvanian who, from time to time, might need to manage moments of uncertainty. Know that your Artistic Community is here to provide you with any support you may need personally.
So, for all that you have done personally in support of WHYY -- the first broadcasting company ever to be so honored by the Commonwealth with this prestigious award -- and the entire Pennsylvania Public Television network, and, best yet, for all that you are about to do to care for the well being in the future for every American, I was honored to present you earlier this evening with this gift from WHYY symbolizing the richness of Pennsylvania's artistic community -- The Music of Stephen C. Foster --, a two-volume set of the popular songwriter's work.
Foster was the inventor of the American Art Song. He was a native Pennsylvanian, born on the 50th anniversary of the nation's birth (July 4, 1826). His songs, which reflect everyday life and are more than 150 years old, are a mirror of his times and ours! They speak of home, security, confidence and comfort.
Governor, may you turn to them as a reminder of your Pennsylvania, our willingness as artists to be here for you and as a source of comfort in the days ahead.