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NPR Arts & Life

Trumps Plan To Skip Kennedy Center Honors — Again

The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 2016. It was the last time a U.S. president — Barack Obama — attended the awards ceremony.
The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 2016. It was the last time a U.S. president — Barack Obama — attended the awards ceremony.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors. Melania Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, confirmed to NPR on Thursday that "there are no plans for them to attend" the awards ceremony, which will be held on Dec. 2 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

This decision makes Trump the only president to miss the ceremony twice in the history of the awards, which were inaugurated in 1978.

This year's honorees are the creative team behind the smash musical Hamilton, including writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire; composer Philip Glass; jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter; country singer Reba McEntire; and singer and actress Cher. The awards recognize lifetime contributions to U.S. culture.

Before Trump took office, the only other instances in which a president has been absent from the ceremony were due to pressing international travel or a crisis. In 1979, the Iran hostage crisis prevented Jimmy Carter from attending; in 1989, President George H.W. Bush was at a summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev; and in 1994, Bill Clinton instead traveled to Budapest to attend a security conference.

As NPR reported when the 2018 honorees were announced in July, several of the winners — particularly Miranda, Cher and Glass — are outspoken critics of the administration.

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