Monday, July 18, 2011

press releaseContact:
Catherine Brandt

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, in conjunction with the National Association of Counties (NACo) will present the 2011 National Award for County Arts Leadership to Councilman Joe Giles of Erie County, Pennsylvania. Councilman Giles will receive his award today at the morning general session at NACo’s annual conference, which is being held this year in Portland, OR.
Throughout his tenure as a legislator in Erie County, Commissioner Giles has consistently and creatively sought opportunities to promote the arts for all in Erie County.  He served on the Warner Theater Preservation Committee, which preserved an original Warner Brothers theater for use as a performing arts venue. He obtained funding for the renovation and addition to the Erie Art Museum. Commissioner Giles served on the Board of the Arts Council of Erie, now known as ArtsErie, for close to 30 years, retiring only when new term limits were adopted.

As a county Councilman, Giles was deeply concerned with the funding of Erie County’s regional assets, which included arts and cultural organizations.  In 2007, he chaired the Erie County Gaming Revenue Committee, which developed a plan for utilizing funding from a new casino to support regional assets. Most recently, Councilman Giles initiated a Poetry Committee and the creation of a Poet Laureate position for Erie County, which is funded by the county government. This move has resulted in the creation of an anthology of poems from Erie County poets.

“Councilman Joe Giles is a dedicated leader with an exemplary record of supporting the arts in Erie County,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “His support in the county has not only increased funding for the arts and cultural sector, but it has also had a positive impact on the lives of local residents.”

“I am deeply honored to accept this award. It recognizes the energy, effort and impact of the arts in our community. Art and culture is, and always will be, the cornerstone of our values as a people and a community,” said Councilman Giles.

The National Award for County Arts Leadership honors an elected county board or individual leader who has significantly advanced the arts in the communities they serve. Americans for the Arts established the award in 1999 to recognize the positive role county government leaders play in improving arts programs, increasing funding to the arts and making the arts accessible in their communities.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at