The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (on the building itself called the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts, and commonly referred to as the Kennedy Center) is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The Center, which opened on September 8, 1971, produces and presents theater, dance, ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music, in addition to multi-media performances for all ages.
It is the busiest performing arts facility in the United States and annually hosts approximately 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly two million; Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 20 million more. Now in its 40th season, the Center presents the greatest examples of music, dance and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education. With its artistic affiliate, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Center's achievements as a commissioner, producer, and nurturer of developing artists have resulted in over 200 theatrical productions, dozens of new ballets, operas, and musical works.
It represents a public-private partnership, since it is both the nation's living memorial to President John F. Kennedy and the "national center for the performing arts", which includes educational and outreach initiatives, almost entirely paid for through ticket sales and gifts from individuals, corporations, and private foundations.
Designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, it was built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain and is administered by a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution. It receives federal funding each year to pay for the maintenance and operation of the building.
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“I have touched the highest point of all my greatness,
And from that full meridian of my glory
I haste now to my setting. I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.”
—John Fletcher (15791625)
“More than in any other performing arts the lack of respect for acting seems to spring from the fact that every layman considers himself a valid critic.”
—Uta Hagen (b. 1919)
“Self-expression is not enough; experiment is not enough; the recording of special moments or cases is not enough. All of the arts have broken faith or lost connection with their origin and function. They have ceased to be concerned with the legitimate and permanent material of art.”
—Jane Heap (c. 18801964)
“When performing an autopsy, even the most inveterate spiritualist would have to question where the soul is.”
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (18601904)
“Well, on the official record youre my son. But on this post youre just another trooper. You heard me tell the recruits what I need from them. Twice that I will expect from you.... Youve chosen my way of life. I hope you have the guts enough to endure it. But put outa your mind any romantic ideas that its a way to glory. Its a life of suffering and of hardship and uncompromising devotion to your oath and your duty.”
—James Kevin McGuinness, and John Ford. Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (John Wayne)
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
—Bible: Hebrew Proverbs 29:18.
President John F. Kennedy quoted this passage on the eve of his assassination in Dallas, Texas. Quoted in Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy, epilogue (1965)
“When the landscape buckles and jerks around, when a dust column of debris rises from the collapse of a block of buildings on bodies that could have been your own, when the staves of history fall awry and the barrel of time bursts apart, some turn to prayer, some to poetry: words in the memory, a stained book carried close to the body, the notebook scribbled by handa center of gravity.”
—Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)