WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will be at home for the Kennedy Center awards ceremony on Sunday.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden plan to take their seats in the presidential box at the Performing Arts Center’s Opera House for a stellar celebration of five artists: Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, mastermind of Saturday Night Live Lorne Michaels, actress and singer. Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell.
A Democrat will be the first president to attend the Kennedy Center Awards since 2016. First Lady’s press secretary, Michael LaRosa, confirmed that the Biden would be in attendance.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump skipped the show in his first three years in office after several artists honored in 2017, his first year, threatened to boycott a White House reception if a Republican attended.
The 2020 ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took place earlier this year.
The Trumps also canceled the traditional White House awards ceremony, which Biden also resumes on Sunday. The presidents traditionally hold a cheerful meeting with the laureates at the White House before the awards ceremony.
Trump has had a controversial relationship with the art world for a long time.
The 44th Kennedy Center Awards will return to the Opera House this year, and all attendees must be tested for COVID-19 in advance.
Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to postpone the annual December ceremony until May 2021. Artist-related performances were filmed over several evenings and at various locations on campus.
This year’s major COVID modification has moved the annual Saturday ceremony where laureates receive their medallions on colorful ribbons to the Library of Congress rather than the State Department.
The Kennedy Center itself recently reopened after being closed due to the pandemic.
The Sunday ceremony, which will air on December 22 on CBS, is the centerpiece of the Kennedy Center’s 50th Cultural Programming Anniversary Celebration. The center opened in 1971.
Presidents usually attend the honors program, first held in 1978.