Kennedy Center Reviews Honors Awarding Process


The press began buzzing today about the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts deciding to review its process for awarding its prestigious Honors for exemplary lifetime achievement.

Felix Sanchez

The review process appears spurred by September criticism that the Honors have spurned worthy Latino performers. The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts leveled the criticism through its chairman Felix Sanchez.

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The New York Times quoted Sanchez today as concurring with the center’s review decision: “It’s just a long-awaited acknowledgement from the Kennedy Center that they are going to view Latinos as part of the American mosaic as they should have done.”

Of the 180 artists saluted through 35 years of the Kennedy Center Honors, two have been Latino: opera star Pl√°cido Domingo and actress Chita Rivera.

The Washington Post quoted Michael M. Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, from a statement released Monday:

“While the center has a strong track record of diversity throughout its other performance, education and arts education programs, it is important to undertake this review process to ensure the Honors reflect the diversity of those who have contributed to American culture.”

The review will take place through an 11-member artist advisory panel, which will have its second meeting this month.

The new panel’s members are:

‚óèGabriel Abaroa, president and chief executive of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

‚óèDebbie Allen, actress

‚óèRoberto Bedoya, executive director of Tucson Pima Arts Council

‚óèMaria de Leon, executive director of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture

‚óèRaul Esparza, Broadway actor

‚óèYo-Yo Ma, cellist

‚óèNorman Y. Mineta, former congressman and Cabinet secretary

‚óèJoseph W. Polisi, president of The Juilliard School

‚óèThomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF

‚óèCarlton Turner of Alternate ROOTS

‚óèDamian Woetzel, dancer and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities