Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts serves two purposes in Washington: to honor the memory of President Kennedy and to promote the arts--music, dance, theater, opera--in our nation.
The Kennedy Center was a long time in the making. Here's a timeline:
1933 -- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt discusses ideas for the creation of jobs for unemployed actors during the Depression.
1935 -- Congress holds hearings regarding plans to establish a Department of Science, Art and Literature and whether to build a theater and arts building near the Capitol.
1938 -- A Congressional resolution calls for the building of a "National Cultural Center." Nothing happens, though.
1950 -- A bill is introduced in Congress to authorize funds for planning and building a cultural center as a memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The bill requires that the center will prohibit discrimination of cast or audience.
1955 - 1958 -- The idea of a cultural center is fiercely debated in Congress with no resolution.
1958 -- Congress finally passes the bill and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs it into law.
1959 -- Fundraising for the center is slow and after three years, less than $14,000 in private funds have been raised. That same year, President John F. Kennedy appoints Roger Stevens to head up the development of the National Cultural Center. He, in turn, recruits First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower as co-chairs.
1963 -- President Kennedy is assassinated.
1964 -- The National Cultural Center is renamed The Kennedy Center. Ground is finally broken in December of that year and construction begins.
1971 -- The Kennedy Center opens with a premiere of Leonard Bernstein's MASS--a piece commissioned by Mrs. Kennedy.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 1/08
Timeline source: Wikipedia