President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced Saturday morning, after two of the honorees, legendary television writer and producer Norman Lear and dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, said they would boycott the White House reception if Trump was present.
“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,” a statement from the White House read.
Lear previously publicly said he would skip the White House reception in protest over the administration’s proposal to cut funding for the arts.
Another honoree, musician and record producer Lionel Richie, said on NBC’s “Today” show last week that he was unsure whether he would go. Also being honored are singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan and hip-hop artist and actor LL Cool J.
Historically, this will be only the fourth time in the event’s 40 years that a president will miss it. President Bill Clinton skipped in 1994 because he was headed to Budapest, Hungary, President George H.W. Bush missed 1989 because of a summit in Malta, and Jimmy Carter skipped in 1979 because of the Iran hostage crisis.
The 40th annual telecast of “The Kennedy Center Honors” will air on CBS on Sunday, December 3rd.