Day Without Art began on December 1st 1989 as a national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis.

To make the public aware that AIDS can touch everyone, and inspire positive action, some 800 U.S. art and AIDS groups participated in the first Day Without Art, shutting down museums, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS. Since then, Day With(out) Art has grown into a collaborative project in which an estimated 8,000 national and international museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS Service Organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges take part. Visual AIDS initiated public actions and programs, published an annual poster and copyright-free broadsides, and acted as press coordinator and clearing house for projects for Day Without Art / World AIDS Day. 

In 1996 we suggested Day Without Art become a day WITH art, and change the name to Day With(out) Art, to recognize and promote increased programming of cultural events that draw attention to the continuing pandemic. Though "the name was retained as a metaphor for the chilling possibility of a future day without art or artists", we added parentheses to the program title, Day With(out) Art, to highlight the proactive programming of art projects by artists living with HIV/AIDS, and art about AIDS, that were taking place around the world. It had become clear that active interventions within the annual program were far more effective than actions to negate or reduce the programs of cultural centers.

Suggestions: Day With(out) Art/AIDS Awareness

Video Screenings -- Host a movie or video screening, such as United In Anger: A History of ACT UP, We Were Here, How to Survive a Plague, Vito, Tongues Untied, or Last Address among others. Discuss the films afterwards. Curate your own short film series on youtube.

Exhibitions -- Organize an exhibition of artwork by an artist(s) living with HIV/AIDS or artwork related to current issues around HIV/AIDS to raise awareness. Exhibitions can be an open call for artwork or curated with a specific theme in mind. Visit our Artist Registry to see samples of work, or contact your local AIDS service organizations and ask if they have an artist workshops and if any of their members would be interested in participating. Be sure to consider how and where the artwork will be shown. If budget and security of the artwork is an issue, consider exhibiting posters, projecting slide or digital image, your host a "condom art" show, where participants decorate condom packages with paint, glitter, stickers, etc -- as a way to discuss safer sex practices.

Artist's Talk or Workshop -- Invite an artist living with HIV/AIDS to speak or lead a workshop at your school, gallery, or art center. Artist can speak about his/her artwork, present slides or host a workshop. Visit our Artist Registry for examples of artwork and contact info or contact Visual AIDS for suggestions on artists in your area.

Posters & Graphics -- Design a posters or a banner for display or distribution. Posters can be created by individual artists or by groups in a classroom or workshop. Large posters can be displayed outdoors, in public place, or in galleries, hallways, AIDS service organizations, schools, etc. Smaller posters can be photocopied and distributed widely. Posters can be designed as a graphic design project or artist workshop. T-shirts, sticker or other items can also be designed, worn and shared. For examples of AIDS posters and graphics, see Gran Fury, Poster Virus, The Stigma Project, Visual AIDS Print+, Graphic Intervention.

Red Ribbon Bee -- Create a ribbon bee, were people can gather to cut, fold and make red ribbon pins to wear and share. Ribbon bees are also a great format to share information about HIV, open dialogs around sex education, HIV criminalization, access to health care, PEP & PrEP, testing, disclosure, and the global AIDS crisis. Click here for more info on how to create your own ribbon bee.

Social Media -- Create an online campaign for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. Create your own AIDS awareness meme, and ask your friend to post and share.

School / Classroom -- Discuss the work and lives of HIV+ artists, writers, musicians, performers, and activists. Remember those that have died of AIDS, and discuss what work or issues they would be working on today. Create assignments or projects that encourage researching individuals along with current demographic information about HIV/AIDS.

Action -- Plan an action/observance in your workplace, classroom, or neighborhood specific to your community. you can organize a Ribbon Bee and distribute Red Ribbons with current HIV statistics; Organize a clothing or food drive for your local AIDS service organization; Start an AIDS fundraiser for your local AIDS Service Organization (bake sale, art auction, or even a small dinner party); Organize a rally, candlelight vigil or moment of silence; Post flyer or poster in your neighborhood to raise awareness; Create a names memorial wall; Contact your local politician and let them know you support more AIDS related funding and services; Set up a special display of books and resource materials about HIV/AIDS at your local library; Encourage HIV testing; Distribute free condoms; Volunteer or make a donation to your local AIDS service organization.


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