Kennedy Center Announces Review of Honors Process

Monday, Jan 7, 2013  |  Updated 6:50 PM EDT
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The Kennedy Center in Washington is reviewing the way it selects artists who receive the high-profile Kennedy Center Honors each year after a group said it was excluding Latinos.

The formal review announced Monday includes members of the Kennedy Center board and an 11-member artist advisory panel. The panel includes actress Debbie Allen, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Broadway actor Raul Esparza. It will also include representatives from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

The 35-year-old Kennedy Center Honors have become a major cultural prize that comes with a salute from the president and secretary of state.

In September, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts criticized the Kennedy Center for excluding Latinos. Only two past honorees were Hispanics.

News4 found that Latinos aren’t the only underrepresented minority group:

  • Caucasian: 141 (76.2 percent)
  • African-American: 37 (20 percent)
  • Other (Multiracial or one that did not fit into the other categories.): 3 (1.6 percent)
  • Latino: 2 (1.1 percent)
  • Asian: 1 (0.5 percent)
  • Native American: 1 (0.5 percent)

The selection process first begins with a 75-person committee of former honorees and luminaries in the field of performing arts. They send their suggestions to Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, Chairman David Rubenstein and Co-Producer George Stevens Jr. This group then sends a "tally" to a 14-member committee that makes the final decision.

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