Debbie Allen, Rául Esparza, Yo-Yo Ma Among Kennedy Center's New Artist Advisory Panel for Kennedy Center Honors

News   Debbie Allen, Rául Esparza, Yo-Yo Ma Among Kennedy Center's New Artist Advisory Panel for Kennedy Center Honors
Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has announced a review of the Kennedy Center Honors selection process.

Raul Esparza
Raul Esparza

The review, a process to ensure the Honors program "continues to reflect the full range of artistic excellence in the years ahead," has been augmented by the formation of a Latino Advisory Committee to establish a "more open and collaborative engagement with the Hispanic community."

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. An 11-member artist advisory panel has also been created. This panel includes Gabriel Abaroa, president and CEO of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; actress Debbie Allen; Roberto Bedoya, executive director of Tucson Prima Arts Council; Maria de Leon, executive director of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture; Broadway actor Rául Esparza; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; former congressman and Cabinet secretary Norman Mineta; Joseph Polisi, president of The Juilliard School; Thomas A. Saenz, president and General Counsel of MALDEF; Carlton Turner of Alternate ROOTS; and Damian Woetzel, dancer and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The Kennedy Center expects these committees to complete their work and make recommendations to the Center’s full board of trustees in advance of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors selection process.

“Over the course of 35 years, the Kennedy Center Honors has grown in stature and importance to become the preeminent award for cultural achievement in the United States,” said Kennedy Center president Michael M. Kaiser in a statement. “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.”

In addition to the Honors process, the Kennedy Center is "committed to bolstering both its track record on diversity and its relationship with the Hispanic community" and will form a Latino Advisory Committee, which will meet quarterly to focus on these key goals. For more information visit

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