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[Photo of the Kennedy Center and the words: "Explore the Center".]

Dedication Statements
Published in the inaugural program, September 8, 1971

ex-President Richard Milhouse Nixon
America's performing arts stem from the spirit of the country and the soul of its people, and they impart to the Nation's life a beauty, a grace, and a deep and special communion without which that life would be incomplete. It is especially fitting that they now should have this magnificent new Center in the nation's capital.

The opening of the John. F. Kennedy Center is the fulfillment of a dream shared by Americans in every walk of life. Its completion now, as the nation prepares for the approaching celebration of its bicentennial, gives proud emphasis to our rich artistic heritage, and helps ensure that in the third American century that heritage will continue both to grow in vigor and to gain in recognition and support by the public it serves.

— President Richard Milhouse Nixon


Photo: Mrs. Patricia Nixon
It gives me great pleasure to welcome each of you here to the festive and auspicious occasion celebrating the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This is indeed a significant moment, one in which not only those present, but also an entire nation, can take pride and derive inspiration. This magnificent Center is in itself a tribute to our nation's cultural aspirations as well as its artistic achievements. Our desire for a national center to encourage and promote greater appreciation and participation in performing arts initiated its founding. Its realization reflects the commitment of four Presidents and innumerable citizens to this goal. The John F. Kennedy Center, already a vital part of our heritage, in time, will also assume leadership in the cultural enrichment of our modern age. I am confident that the dignity and grandeur of this building will well complement, both tonight and in future generations, the artistic opportunity and pleasure for which the John F. Kennedy Center was designed. I join with you in appreciation and excitement at this promise.

— Mrs. Patricia Nixon


Photo: Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson

With the completion of the Kennedy Center, a whole new cultural vista is opening in Washington. All of the performing arts will be gathered together in one brilliant setting, offering pleasure to generations of Washingtonians and millions of visitors.

As I look back over more than three decades when I called Washington my home, I recall with pleasure and nostalgia watching a glittering ballet performance on a floating barge at the Watergate on the Potomac ... or driving to the country to see a summer-tock production in a barn ... or sitting on the Capitol lawn at twilight captured by the tempo of a band concert.

I know the Center will make an enduring contribution to our national life as well as add a rich new dimension to our capital city. It is an exciting prospect for all of us who love Washington so dearly.

— Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson



Photo: Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Washington has been our nation's capital for a century and three quarters. But only recently have we begun to understand that a great nation is nourished by art as well as by politics. Other countries' cities have their theaters, opera houses, and concert halls, but our capital city has lacked an adequate place for our great orchestras, singers, dancers, and actors. Now, at last, we will have a home for the performing arts in our own nation's capital. Here, there will be splendid productions of opera, music, theater, dance and film – productions that will give our performing artists a national base and will strengthen artistic opportunities and standards throughout the land.

For the Kennedy Center exists not for Washington alone. It exists for the entire nation. Its work will be closely linked with state arts councils; municipal arts centers; colleges; schools; and museums everywhere in our country. I am particularly glad that provisions are being made to set aside a proportion of tickets for every performance at special rates, to be reserved for students and old people and others not in a position to pay the box office price. This is a place not just for the wealthy elite, but for all America.

President Kennedy once said, "The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation's purpose – and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization."

Someone else once said: "All passes, art alone endures."

— Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis



Photo: Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower
I am proud that the National Cultural Center was conceived and had its beginning during my husband's administration. Its development, of course, has been carried on by others.

The Canadian gift of the stage curtain for the Eisenhower Theater was very heartwarming to me and showed the friendship of that nation for our country as well as it being a great tribute to General Eisenhower's memory.

— Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower