John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Amend the National Cultural Center Act

August 19, 1963

I want to make a brief statement about this. This legislation provides for 3 more years for the Cultural Center. If it were not for the passage of this bill, the Center would have been "finished" in early September. This gives us 3 more years. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Roger Stevens, the committee for raising funds has now raised in actual pledges and cash $11 million, which is one-third of the total amount.

We feel it essential that this Cultural Center be finished. Every major capital in the world, and a good many capitals of States which are not large, has a center which demonstrates the performing arts, serves as the place for exhibiting the finest in the Nation's cultural life. Washington does not have one and I think this country suffers not only in the minds of our own people, but I think in the general impression of this society of ours as being one that is interested in many forms of human activity. I think if we can build this Center it will be a very good thing for this country.

I want to express my appreciation to the Members of Congress for their long interest. We have Members here who started this program. This was originated by the Congress and by President Eisenhower and we are trying to carry it through and finish it. I hope the support which Congress has given to this effort will be reinforced by support we get across the country.

This is a private undertaking, a private fundraising, of Mr. Stevens for a good many months. I think this is a project very valuable and very important and the more this country entertains foreign visitors, and they all come to see what this free society is, the more important it is that we have this Center finished.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 1652) is Public Law 88-100 (77 Stat. 128).

Subsequently the cultural center was designated as a national monument in memory of the late President and was renamed the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (78 Stat. 4).

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Signing Bill To Amend the National Cultural Center Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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