Donald and Melania Trump to Skip Kennedy Center Honors

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A spokeswoman for the Kennedy Center, Michelle Pendoley, said that the Washington arts institution had been in “close contact” with the White House ahead of the decision and that she was alerted before the White House made its announcement.

Another spokeswoman, Eileen Andrews, said the Kennedy Center was “proactive in ongoing conversations” with the White House as recently as Friday.

Some recipients of the award, which honors lifetime careers in art, music, dance, film, television and culture, had already said they would not attend a gala event at the White House held in conjunction with the presentation. The Kennedy Center said that the gala had been canceled.

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The dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, who is among those to be honored by the Kennedy Center in December, announced on Thursday that she would have forgone the related reception anyway.

“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,” Ms. de Lavallade, 86, said in a statement.

Another honoree, Norman Lear, a television producer known for progressive political activism, had said he would not attend the reception before the ceremony where he is to receive an award for lifelong artistic achievement.

In its statement Saturday, the Kennedy Center appeared grateful that Mr. and Mrs. Trump settled on skipping the ceremony. The center said that it expected all the honorees to attend the weekend’s events.

“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities,” the Kennedy Center leadership, David M. Rubenstein and Deborah F. Rutter, wrote, “the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees.”

There was, at one point, an event at the Kennedy Center that Mr. Trump was eager to attend. He spoke to an adoring crowd of evangelical Christians there in July, at a concert honoring veterans. An orchestra and choir from Texas welcomed the president to the stage with a song called “Make America Great Again,” a play on the president’s campaign slogan. The event soon took on the appearance of a campaign rally, with attendees wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and waving American flags.

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“The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House,” Mr. Trump said that day. “But I’m president and they’re not.”


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