Kennedy Center Honors & Mark Twain Prize Postponed Until 2021 Due To COVID-19 Shutdown

Kennedy Center Honors, 2019 Shutterstock

The 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors, broadcast annually on CBS, and the 23rd Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, on PBS, will be postponed from their usual Fall slots until next spring and summer, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced today.

The events are among a roster of previously announced performances postponed or canceled today by the Kennedy Center due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s guidelines for re-opening.

The Kennedy Center Honors, usually held in December, will now take place on March 7, 2021, and air at a later date on CBS. The Mark Twain Prize, usually held in October, will be presented on June 20, 2021, prior to a later broadcast on PBS.

Also announced today is the cancellation of the National Symphony Orchestra Opening Night Gala, originally scheduled for September 26.

In its announcement today, the Kennedy Center said that it’s leadership, programming, and education teams “are exploring digital and, in consultation with health and safety experts, physical methods of enacting the mission of the nation’s cultural center and engaging with artists and audiences as our country and region moves through phased reopening.”

New programming working within the mayor’s guidelines will be announced in July, including new events curated for both indoor and outdoor spaces, and some previously planned performances relocated into different venues.

“Our lives as we have known them have been upended by COVID-19, but the world continues to spin forward and we need artists now more than ever to help light the way,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter.

The cancelations and postponements, according to the Kennedy Center, will cost the institution an estimated $45.7 million in ticket sales and other earned income during the 2020-2021 season. The Center will investigate cost savings across the institution “to protect as many staff and artistic positions as possible.”

The Kennedy Center has been closed since March 13.

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