Donald Trump pulls out of Kennedy Awards to avoid being 'political distraction'

The President has long had a contentious relationship with the arts world

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Saturday 19 August 2017 14:44 BST
The President said he did not want to be a distraction
The President said he did not want to be a distraction (Getty)

Donald Trump and the First Lady will break with tradition and not attend a celebrated awards ceremony to avoid becoming a “political distraction” – an embarrassment that follows the membership of an arts advisory group quitting in protest at his recent comments.

The Kennedy Centre Honours, a star-studded gala, has for years been a fixture of the US arts establishment. Previous presidents and first ladies have held receptions in the White House for those being honoured and frequently sat with them during the televised event at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.

But the White House announced in an early morning statement that the President and Melania Trump will not be attending the event, scheduled to take place in December, to “allow the honourees to celebrate without any political distraction”.

The decision came a day after the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned in protest over Mr Trump’s comments about last weekend’s demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a young woman was killed. The president blamed “many sides” for the violence.

The Associated Press said Mr Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the arts world and some of the Kennedy Centre honourees had already said they would not attend the White House reception.

Trump tells debunked story of Pershing who 'dipped bullets in pigs blood to kill terrorists'

One of them, television writer and producer Norman Lear, had previously questioned whether Mr Trump would want to attend the gala, “given his indifference or worse regarding the arts and humanities”.

Other artists due receive awards include hip-hop artist LL Cool J, singers Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the awards.

The White House said the Trumps “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments”.

Kennedy Centre chairman David Rubenstein and president Deborah Rutter said in a statement: “The Kennedy Centre respects the decision made today by the office of the President of the United States. In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honours activities, the administration has graciously signalled its respect for the Kennedy Centre … We are grateful for this gesture.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in