Kennedy Center Honors Invite Public to Join Selection Process; Chita Rivera Appointed to Advisory Committee

The Kennedy Center board of trustees has announced a key revision to the selection process for the esteemed Kennedy Center Honors, which will now allow members of the public to participate via an online recommendation.

Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera (Photo by Laura Marie Duncan)

In September 2012 the Kennedy Center board of trustees formed a committee, co-chaired by Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein and Elaine Wynn, to identify improvements to the Honoree selection process.

The revisions reflect a desire to "ensure the Honors program continues to reflect the full range of artistic excellence in the years ahead," the board said in a May 16 statement.

This expansion, effective immediately, invites members of the public to submit the names of artists they feel have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. The Kennedy Center states that the primary criterion is "excellence, and artistic achievement in dance, music, theatre, opera, motion pictures, and television." Members of the public can click here to recommend prospective Honorees.

The Artist Committee, comprising accomplished individuals in the performing arts and traditionally the source of recommendations to the Kennedy Center board of trustees, will be expanded to assure the broadest representation of candidates.

Recommendations from members of the public and the Artist Committee will then be reviewed by a newly created Special Honors Advisory Committee composed of two former Kennedy Center Honorees, two Artist Committee members, and two members of the Kennedy Center board of trustees. Tony Award winner Chita Rivera (a 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree) and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are part of the new comittee, which also includes Artist Committee members Harolyn Blackwell and Damian Woetzel and board members Cappy McGarr and Elaine Wynn. The Special Honors Advisory Committee will narrow the roster of potential honorees down to 10 to 20 nominees. From this list, the Kennedy Center chairman, president, and the producers of the Honors will create slates of Honorees. These slates will be submitted to the executive committee of the Kennedy Center board of trustees for discussion and final decision.

The Artist Committee and the Special Honors Advisory Committee will have fixed terms: Members of the artist committee will serve five-year terms, and members of the Special Honors Advisory Committee will serve three year terms.

"It is yet another honor to be a part of ensuring that the many great Latinos who contribute to our American culture are acknowledged. There are many and that is what makes our country the beautiful mosaic it is," Rivera said in a statement to 

The new process will guide the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors selection.