Local and Community News
Washington, D.C., AIDS Quilt Group Disbands; Activists Say New Policies From National Foundation Office Will Limit Displays
March 26, 2002
The Washington, D.C.-area chapter of the Names Project -- the huge quilt that pays tribute to people who have died of AIDS -- is disbanding because of a dispute with the national foundation that controls the ever-expanding memorial. The national Names Project Foundation in Atlanta has issued new guidelines for its two dozen chapters, and several have opted to discontinue their operations, officials said. The D.C. chapter objected to a decision by the foundation to limit the availability of portions of the quilt that are exhibited in classrooms, churches and public places. The quilt would be unavailable for locally arranged displays for four months a year, said chapter board member Michael Bento. Last year, the D.C. chapter brought blocks of the quilt to 155 events, and it said more than two million people have seen sections of the quilt in the chapter's 13-year history.
"When it comes right down to it, the quilt was a way of putting a tangible object in front of schoolchildren to explain an epidemic and the lives lost during that epidemic," said chapter board member Bryon Fusini. "We were not going to have that available to us, so that caused us to rethink what our chapter was about."
In recent years, the foundation has struggled financially, and it came close to shutting down in 2000. Since the AIDS quilt was started 14 years ago, the foundation has managed it in cooperation with independent chapters, said foundation managing director Julie Rhoad.
Rhoad said the new policy is collaborative, not autocratic. "We have an obligation at the national office to make sure that panel makers have access, that display hosts and committees have access, and that [the quilt] is taken care of," Rhoad said. Fusini said the national office was unresponsive to criticism of its policy changes. The two sides also disagree over the foundation's plans to exercise greater control of chapter fundraising and spending.
03.23.02; Avram Goldstein
Creator of AIDS Memorial Quilt, Names Project Foundation Reach Agreement Over Return of Quilt Panels
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.