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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:04:18 16:42:30

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:04:18 16:41:54

From left, are Gina Malsky, of West Pittston, with Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf at the March announcement for the Governor’s Awards for the Arts ceremony, which will be held in Scranton in August.

After former Exeter Mayor Cassandra Coleman, director of Governor Wolf’s Northeast office, asked Gina Malsky to chair the 2018 Governor’s Awards for the Arts ceremony, Malsky, from West Pittston, jumped right in by choosing a venue in Scranton for a major announcement about the Governor’s Awards.

“Everybody knows about the Cultural Center and the court house so we suggested the Weinberg Memorial Library at the University of Scranton. It’s nice to highlight different places people don’t get to see a lot. Everybody said it’s beautiful.”

So it was at the Weinberg Library on March 8 that Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf announced the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony would be held in Scranton on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

Pennsylvania governors have been presenting Governor’s Arts Awards since 1980. In the early years, the event was held in Harrisburg, before it went on the road. This year will be the first time the award ceremony will be held in Scranton.

Past recipients include actors Jimmy Stewart and Michael Keaton, authors John Updike and James Michener, singers Marion Anderson and Marilyn Horne, artist Andrew Wyeth and playwright August Wilson.

Past NEPA recipients include Sondra Myers, author and senior fellow for international, civic and cultural projects at the University of Scranton; jazz musicians Bob Dorough and Phil Woods; theater and movie production designer Santo Loquasto and architect Peter Q. Bohlin.

Awards are presented in four categories: Distinguished Arts Award, Patron Award, Arts Leadership & Service, and Artist of the Year (The Hazlett Memorial Award.) An open call for nominations closed in February.

Malsky said she has nothing to do with nominations or selection of the winners, that’s the role of the Pennsylvania Arts Council. Her role is event planning and fundraising.

She said one of her duties is to showcase the arts of Scranton, as the host city, and NEPA and the state. To that end she has asked Coal Creative, an Internet marketing company with a studio in Wilkes-Barre, to produce a movie highlighting the arts of all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

“They are young, eager, creative with lots of energy,” Malsky said of the Coal Creative staff.

The first major fundraiser is a kickoff dinner at Rikasa, the new restaurant in Pittston in the former Palzazzo site, now owned by Nancy Medico. Only 50 tickets will be sold at $400 per couple for the exclusive Sostenere le Arti event from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 29.

The dinner will feature an open bar of premium liquor, wine, beer and cocktails; music by Bret Alexander, heavy passed hors d’oeuvres, including colossal shrimp Wellington and beef Wellington and more; stationed hors d’oeuvres raw bar with ice carvings, French style charcurerie and crudite platters and desserts.

“I love to embrace new places. It’s very artsy in there. Nancy was great. It’s nice to do different things.”

For information on Arts Awards events, search 2018 Pa Gov Arts Awards on Facebook, email info.pagovarts@gmail.com or call 570-332-7817.

Malsky was honored with her selection, but at first was apprehensive about being the chairwoman. As a West Pittston resident with businesses in Wilkes-Barre, with Downtown Arts and Dance Theater, and in Exeter, operating Work of Art learning Center, she worried she wasn’t as connected to the Scranton arts scene. A few meetings allayed her fears and she is learning fast.

“I’m working with a committee of people from NEPA, all supporters of the arts. We’ve got several subcommittees. Everybody is receptive to make the event a success. I was nervous, but everybody pulled together,” she said.

Malsky has been deep into arts since high school when she was a 1984 PA Governor School for the Arts recipient. She graduated from Wyoming Area in 1985.

For the past two school years, she and her family have sponsored the Prokop-Malsky Arts Scholarship for Wyoming Area seniors. The 2017 winner was Eve Urban. The 2018 winners are Justine Buczynski and Thomas Walkowiak. Both 2017 and 2018 recipients are running a theater workshop for children this summer.

jsmiles@pittstonprogress.com