Administrative History

The Governor's Arts Awards aimed to recognize and celebrate exceptional individuals and organizations in the arts community. The program was first initiated under Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1966 and was held until 1976 when budget cuts forced its discontinuation. The program was reinitiated in 1984 under Governor Mario Cuomo as the Governor's Arts Awards and held annually until 2002.

At each awards ceremony, honorary awards were presented in various arts fields correlating with New York Council on the Arts grants program areas. Nominations were made by the public and constituents, selected by Council on the Arts staff, and confirmed by the governor. The evening ceremony was hosted by the governor and first lady, and featured celebrity presenters. Later awards ceremonies appear to have been held exclusively at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, but the earlier practice was to alternate annually between New York City and Albany.