President Trump and his wife, Melania, will not be attending this year's Kennedy Center arts awards, the White House announced Saturday morning.
"The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction," said a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
The surprise announcement comes one day after the remaining members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned en masse Friday morning to protest Trump's reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend.
It is a tradition for presidents and first ladies to host a reception for the honorees at the White House before the annual event, and afterwards attend the gala in at the Washington, D.C., venue.
The White House statement said the Trumps "extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year's award recipients for their many accomplishments."
The Kennedy Center's chairman, David Rubenstein, and president Deborah Rutter, put out a statement saying the center "respects" the decision.
"In choosing not to participate in this year's Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gaala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees," the pair said. We are grateful for the gesture."
This year, the awardees are American dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, Cuban American singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan, American rap artist and actor L.L. Cool J, American television writer and producer Norman Lear, and American musician and record producer Lionel Richie.
This televised 40th anniversary arts celebration event will take place on Dec. 3.