US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania will not participate in this year’s activities of the prestigious Kennedy Center which honours noted artists for their accomplishments, the White House said today. The announcement comes a day after members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, including two Indian-Americans author Jhumpa Lahiri and actor Kal Penn, resigned in protest against Trump’s Charlottesville remarks in which he blamed “both sides” for the racist violence in Virginia. “The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments,” she said. Each year, the Kennedy Center honours the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the US with a weekend that includes celebrations and events. The award recipients are recognised for their lifetime contributions in the arts and the positive change they have made all over the world.