A Day With(out) Art

December 1st is World AIDS day, and as has been tradition since 1989, arts organizations across the United States and abroad will make the day a moment to 'inspire positive action' by participating in the Day With(out) Art program. The initiative began as an effort to mobilize the arts community to amplify their own voice in support of AIDS awareness and to respond to the 'crisis' with proactive programs. On that first day, over 800 institutions went dark, closing their museums and sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or mounting special shows on AIDS-related issues. Orchestrated by the organization Visual Aids, this collaborative effort has certainly harnessed the internet's mobilizing power. In the late nineties, as more artists and orgs went online, partners in the program set their web pages to black or mounted dark banners on December 1st, in order to create a moment of visual silence in which to think about how AIDS effects us all. In 1997, the name of the event was changed from 'A Day Without Art' to 'A Day WITH Art' in order to encourage the 8,000+ project participants to use their voices and venues to speak out about AIDS-related issues. Visual Aids ultimately retained the name as 'a metaphor for the chilling possibility of a future day without art or artists.'