The chairman and president of the Kennedy Center said they were “grateful for this gesture” after it was announced President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump would not attend the Kennedy Center Honors in December.

“The Kennedy Center respects the decision made today by the office of the president of the United States,” chairman David M. Rubenstein and president Deborah F. Rutter said in a joint statement.

“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees. We are grateful for this gesture," they said.


The Kennedy Center also confirmed that the annual reception held at the White House would not take place this year.

The White House announced early Saturday that Trump and the First Lady would be skipping the honors to avoid “political distraction.”

“The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the statement from the White House press secretary said.

“First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

At least two Kennedy Center honorees - TV legend Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade - said they would not attend the White House reception because of Trump.

Lear cited Trump’s proposed cuts to art funding and de Lavallade blamed the administration’s “socially divisive and morally caustic rhetoric” as reasons for avoiding the reception.