Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA)
Governor Tom Ridge, now serving his second term as governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has achieved great distinction for the state by setting a remarkable record in the arts and boldly championing cultural programs as essential to education, the economy, and quality of life. Governor Ridge believes a vibrant and citizen-enriching civil society, in which the arts play an undeniably important role, is necessary for a vital democracy. Since taking office in 1995, he has successfully proposed increases in state arts funding in every year of his administration, even while making substantial tax cuts in the state's overall budget. Governor Ridge has enthusiastically supported Pennsylvania's ongoing investment in cultural capital projects with more than $30 million in state funding for groups such as the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, Freedom Theater, Asociacion de Musicos Latino Americanos, Pittsburgh Ballet and Point Breeze Performing Arts Center, Governor Ridge's unprecedented support for cultural capital projects reflects his vision of arts and cultural institutions as key state assets and as vital components in Pennsylvania's economic and cultural infrastructure.
The arts also are central to Governor Ridge's strategies for tourism promotion as well as for attracting international trade to forge economic development in the state. In 1999, the governor's trade mission to Asia prominently included the Philadelphia Orchestra's tour to Japan and Vietnam. With tourism ranked as Pennsylvania's second-leading industry, Governor Ridge's administration initiated the first inter-agency work group on tourism, integrating cultural tourism with the statewide effort to attract visitors to Pennsylvania. Governor Ridge also shares his personal enjoyment of the arts through unique exhibitions at the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg. He and his wife, Michele, hosted a recent installation of still lifes from The Andy Warhol Museum of Pittsburgh. In conjunction with the 1996 blockbuster Cezanne exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Governor and Mrs. Ridge presented the first U.S. showing of Cezanne's sole remaining paint palette. A native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Harvard University and Dickinson School of Law, Governor Ridge began his public service career as an assistant district attorney in Erie County, then served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1994. Governor and Mrs. Ridge have two children, Lesley and Tommy.