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WHYY Wins 2001 Governor's Award For Arts Leadership And Service

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge presented the 2001 Governor's Award for Arts Leadership and Service to WHYY, Inc. and its CEO and President William J. Marrazzo, the first time a broadcaster has ever won this prestigious Governor's Award for the Arts.

The Arts Leadership and Service Award recognizes WHYY's longstanding support of arts and culture in Southeastern Pennsylvania and specifically its recent Philadelphia Performs! series, a program that featured live performances and enhanced documentary pieces.

"WHYY and I are honored to be the recipient of this year's 2001 Arts Leadership and Service Award. We are also humbled to be in the company of remarkable people from this great Commonwealth," Marrazzo said recognizing the other recipients of Pennsylvania's arts awards (read WHYY CEO and President William J. Marrazzo's acceptance remarks).

WHYY is a nonprofit corporation chartered by the Commonwealth to operate WHYY-TV12 and WHYY-FM 91, the public broadcasting stations serving Southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. Its mission is to contribute to the quality of life by providing education, information, entertainment and inspiration for all.

WHYY was one of four individuals and organizations honored with a 2001 Governor's Award for the Arts on October 3, 2001 at the Allentown Symphony Hall. The other recipients were:

  • Distinguished Arts Award -- Wolfgang Sawallisch, of Philadelphia, acclaimed Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Patron of the Year Award -- The Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, of Allentown.

  • Artist of the Year/Hazlett Memorial Award -- Leon Bates, of Philadelphia, renowned pianist and recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award.

"These fine Pennsylvanians deserve our thanks for their strong commitment to cultural life in our great Commonwealth," Gov. Ridge said. "These leaders in the arts community, through their dedication and giving spirit, set an example for artists and arts patrons. Their gifts will continue to be sources of enjoyment and inspiration for future generations."

In turning his attention directly to WHYY the Governor continued, "But for public television there is no reason to own a TV."

Marrazzo also pointed out the importance of the arts, especially during the current climate of the country and the challenges facing the nation.

"While we are gathered here tonight to rejoice in the arts, all of us has a challenge that needs to be met. Governor Ridge will head for Washington in a few days, accepting the challenge to lead the fight against terrorism as the head of the president's new Office of Homeland Security," Marrazzo said.

During the event Marrazzo presented Governor Ridge with the out-of-print two-book set The Music of Stephen C. Foster: Critical Edition by Steven Saunders and Deane L. Root (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, 1990).

Arts and cultural programming has been a cornerstone of WHYY's activities. With programs ranging from the national daily magazine of contemporary arts and issues, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, to showcasing local filmmaking talent, WHYY long has helped to define the region as a world-class artistic and cultural center. This commitment deepened with the arrival of President and CEO Marrazzo in 1997.

WHYY's Philadelphia Performs! grew out of an investigation of ways to collaborate with institutions across the Delaware Valley. Marrazzo realized four arts organizations in the region were celebrating substantial anniversaries in 2000 -- 100 years for the Philadelphia Orchestra, 75 years for the Curtis Institute of Music, 30 years for Philadanco and 25 years for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. It became clear to Marrazzo that this coincidence was an opportunity not only to mark the milestones, but to package a collaboration that would appeal to a large regional, national and international audience. The initiative also preserved a one-of-a-kind landmark performance and reinforced the Greater Philadelphia Region's reputation as a world-class center for cultural arts and as a tourist destination.

As a result of the quality of the programming and an aggressive marketing and distribution plan, Philadelphia Performs! achieved its public awareness and audience goals. To date, the series has reached a quarter-of-a-million Philadelphia-area households and more than 38 million households worldwide. The series has stimulated interest and new donations for the partners, and new audiences for the art forms themselves.

Past Arts Leadership and Service Award recipients include Carol R. Brown, past President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; William E. Strickland, Jr., founder and Director of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild; Lily Yeh, founder and Director of the Village of Arts and Humanities; and Robert Montgomery Scott, past President and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.