President Donald Trump is reviving the National Medal of Arts, with plans to honor actor Jon Voight, singer Alison Krauss, Sharon Percy Rockefeller and the musicians of the United States Military in a White House ceremony on Thursday.
[Voight, Krauss and author James Patterson are shown above.]
This will be the first time Trump hosted a National Medal of Arts ceremony, which was last held in 2016 by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump also will award the National Humanities Medal to the Claremont Institute, philanthropist Teresa Lozano Long, chef Patrick J. O’Connell and author James Patterson.
The award is given to individuals who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States,” according to the National Endowment for the Arts. National Council on the Arts, which oversees the endowment, reviews nominations and send recommendations to the president, who determines the honorees.
Voight is one of Trump’s most visible Hollywood supporters. He emceed a pre-inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial, and most recently posted a video on Twitter defending the president as he faces the impeachment inquiry. Voight called it the “highest form of deceit.”
In the most recent ceremony, Obama awarded the medal to figures including Mel Brooks, Berry Gordy and Morgan Freeman. His other recipients included Jeffrey Katzenberg and Quincy Jones, longtime supporters and donors.
Trump has had a tenuous relationship with many in the arts community. In their three annual budgets so far, his administration has proposed eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. But Congress has ignored those proposals.
In August, 2017, most of the remaining members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, an advisory committee that was set up in 1982, resigned to protest Trump’s response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump let the executive order for the committee lapse later that year.
Trump also has not attended the Kennedy Center Honors. In 2017, nominee Norman Lear said that he would boycott the traditional White House reception for honorees in protest of the administration’s proposed elimination of NEA funding. The reception was cancelled.