The White House announced early Saturday morning that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump would not participate in the annual Kennedy Center honors in December to avoid “political distraction.”
“Each year, the Kennedy Center honors the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the United States with a weekend that includes celebrations and events,” the statement read. “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.”
“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.”
The statement comes on the heels of two of this year’s honorees announcing they would boycott the Kennedy Center Honors reception held at the White House.
TV legend Norman Lear announced earlier this month he would not attend the reception, citing Trump’s proposed cuts to arts funding as one of his reasons.
“This is a presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities — deliberately defund them — and that doesn’t rest pleasantly with me,” Lear said.
Dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade announced Thursday she would also boycott the White House reception, citing Trump’s “socially divisive and morally caustic rhetoric.”
“In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said in a statement.
The President and First Lady typically hold a reception at the White House each year for the honorees in addition to appearing alongside them at the Kennedy Center Honors awards ceremony, but the Kennedy Center said in a statement Saturday that the reception would no longer occur.