Marking the return of White House involvement in the Kennedy Center Honors celebration, President Joe Biden recorded a special message for the ceremony in which he said the role of artists is “more important than ever” as the country is recovering from Covid. -19 crisis.
In the video, Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden met at the White House with this year’s winners “recognizing how art touches the soul of America.”
“In this year of deep loss and pain, of repair and renewal, artists’ vision is more important than ever,” Biden said.
He added, “In the search for greater meaning in our lives, we have discovered and rediscovered the power of art in all its forms.
CBS will air the recorded ceremony Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / PT.
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Biden met the five Kennedy Center winners – Joan Baez, Midori, Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen and Dick Van Dyke – in the Oval Office last month. Although he did not attend the ceremony itself, which was taped over several days in late May and in front of a smaller crowd due to Covid-19 protocols, Biden’s appearance was a throwback to the tradition of the president’s participation in the festivities.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, rescinded the tradition of a White House reception with the laureates and also skipped the ceremony at the Kennedy Center. In 2017, some of the winners that year, including Norman Lear, said they planned to skip the White House reception to protest Trump’s White House call to cut federal funding for the arts.
These drastic budget cuts never happened, but Biden’s White House recently proposed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of its supporters have also proposed to elevate the arts in a White House office, in a structure similar to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In her recorded remarks, Biden and that “As part of our country’s great tradition, Jill and I will continue to celebrate the vital role that artists play in our country.
Biden said, “We look forward to working with arts and culture organizations in big cities, small towns and rural communities, to make art more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, to raise more voices. and stories, to remember what President Kennedy believed, that by serving their vision of truth, artists are best serving the nation. “
The ceremony was delayed from its usual date, the first weekend in December, due to the pandemic. The event took place in person, but it looked very different from previous years as the Kennedy Center implemented social distancing and other safety measures. For example, performances that would have taken place on the main stage of the Opera have been pre-recorded around the center.
As a tribute to Allen, Vanessa Hudgens and a team of dancers performed Fame on the outdoor terraces and the main aisle of Kennedy Center. Shonda Rhimes paid tribute to her in a recorded message, highlighting Allen’s work as the director of Grey’s Anatomy.