FAM Update from the Board Chair, 2021 4Q
From the 4Q 2021 Newsletter
Dear Friends of STORIES: The AIDS Monument:
As we near the end of 2021, we wanted to reflect and report on the progress we’ve made at the Foundation for The AIDS Monument (“FAM”) in terms of the physical monument that will be built in West Hollywood Park and the digital monument we are building on our website, www.aidsmonument.org.
Among the achievements in 2021 of which we are proud, which we were able to achieve with your donations and other support, are:
- 1. HEAR Our STORIES audio recordings project. We expanded and announced our HEAR Our STORIES project of audio recordings that are available for you to listen to and read on our website. Currently we have 67 audio stories and we plan to have at least 100 by the end of next year. The stories are from – and about – people from around the world. Many of them, telling stories of lost friends, loved ones and relatives, activists, originated on the popular AIDS Memorial page on Instagram (@TheAIDSMemorial) with which we are honored to be in partnership. Other audio stories feature celebrities and surviving loved ones telling the stories of prominent people we lost to AIDS.
- 2. Website Relaunch. We launched our beautifully re-designed website, aidsmonument.org, to house the HEAR Our STORIES recordings, our growing library of interviews, a timeline of events in the history of HIV/AIDS, and to tell visitors about the design of the future monument and FAM’s mission. If you haven’t already visited the new website designed by Loyal Design, we hope you will do so soon!
- 3. Capital Campaign for Monument is Complete. We delivered to the City of West Hollywood a check and grant funds totaling $2,430,000, thereby fulfilling FAM’s obligation under our November 2020 agreement with the City to take over the fabrication and installation of the Monument and to pay the balance of up to $2,570,000 in future costs associated with the Monument.
- 4. 40th Anniversary of CDC’s First Report on AIDS. We commemorated on June 5, 2021, the 40th anniversary of the Center for Disease Control’s first report in 1981 related to the disease that would eventually become known as AIDS. That commemoration coincided with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Monument and featured an array of political and community leaders, activists and celebrities, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, actors Sharon Stone, George Takei, Robert Gant and Peter Paige, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, activist and Project Angel Food co-founder Marianne Williamson, Jeanne White-Ginder (mother of Ryan White), Robert Contreras from Bienestar, Bambi Salcedo from the TransLatin@ Coalition, and Catch One owner Jewel Thais-Williams. The 40th anniversary event garnered a great deal of press coverage both locally and even overseas.
- 5. Hamilton Show and Reception. FAM arranged for VIP tickets to Hamilton at the Pantages Theater and held a pre-show reception at the W Hotel in Hollywood. Ticket buyers heard from Gerald Garth, COO at AMAAD, a social services agency for Black LGBTQ clients in South Los Angeles that provides HIV testing and counseling among other services. FAM sponsored free tickets to three of AMAAD’s employees so that they could enjoy Hamilton along with our donors. KNBC covered the event and broadcast this story.
- 6. First “STORIES Circles” Event. We held, on World AIDS Day (December 1), an event called “Love, Light & Legacy” — the first in a series of STORIES Circles events bringing together members of the community in West Hollywood and Los Angeles to share stories of how HIV & AIDS impacted their lives and the lives of their friends, relatives and loved ones. We honored Emmy-winning comedy writer, performer and activist Bruce Vilanch, and our lead facilitator was AIDS activist, survivor and counselor Rev. Dr. Steve Pieters who gained fame as the pastor with AIDS who appeared on Tammi Faye Baker’s TV show. Russell Thornhill of Unity Fellowship Church offered a closing prayer as the entire group held hands in a circle.FAM reached out to dozens of community groups and was pleased to have many attendees from Being Alive, APLA, Stonewall Democratic Club, West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, and Positives in Recovery. FAM intends for this to become a regular signature event for sharing and gathering stories and building bonds among residents throughout the region.When we can share our stories, listen to each other, feel heard, empathize and unify around common experiences and emotions, we can heal. Capturing the stories shared in these STORIES Circle events is one of the primary ways we at FAM are making sure our individual and collective experiences during the AIDS pandemic are never forgotten. Click on this link to view a short video from the inaugural STORIES Circle event. KNBC also covered the event. FAM plans to do at least 3 more STORIES Circle events in South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and Hollywood in 2022. Please join us and share your story at one of these events.
- 7. PHOTO21 Auction. We brought back our annual photo auction to Milk Studios and, gathering together in-person for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, we raised a total of $220,000 to share between FAM and our event partner Project Angel Food. The outstanding collection of world-class photos this year attracted ___ attendees who snapped up photographs from the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Misrach, David LaChapelle, Kwaku Alston, Dennis Hopper, Ed Ruscha, Julius Schulman, Ed Moses, Antonio Lopez, Norman Seeff, Richard Phibbs and Patricia Lanza.FAM is so grateful to the hard-working committee that put together Photo21, including Bobby Heller, Paris Chong, John Gile, Kipton Cronkite, Michael Maloney and the ever-generous Willie Maldonado from Milk Studios.
- 8. Social Media Expansion. FAM hired a social media marketing expert, DMM, to produce and curate our social media postings on Instagram and Facebook, thereby bringing you important news related to the Monument, FAM’s events, and to HIV/AIDS in general, as well as releasing our HEAR Our STORIES recordings so that they can gain a wider audience and attract more followers to our social media. With more followers and regular postings, FAM is raising awareness of the Monument and fulfilling our mission to educate the public about the history of HIV & AIDS. Please follow us on: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
- 9. Prototype Trace Received. Finally, in late October, we received from UAP and Monument artist Dan Tobin a protype/partial mock-up of one of the bronze traces for the Monumen It is a 4-foot sample of what the 15-foot traces will look like, complete with working light at the top and – as will be the case with 30 of the traces – a word (“isolation”) engraved in trace. Each engraved word corresponds to the 30 words in the Word Wall on our website, and each word represents the kind of story you can hear when you visit the Monument or the website. We are so excited to have the prototype because it will allow the contractor that fabricates the traces to see exactly what they need to build and install.
- 10. Update on Schedule for Monument Opening. Although FAM had most recently estimated that the Monument would be installed in West Hollywood Park by the end of 2022, we have now determined, after speaking at length with the City of West Hollywood staff members in charge of the project, that the more likely completion and installation date will be in the second half of 2023. We know that this will be disappointing to many of you and we share your frustration at the delay. We are all eager to get the Monument fabricated, installed and open to the public. However, we had years of delay in the construction of the re-designed Park, along with delays caused by UAP deciding to be only the designer (rather than being the start-to-finish designer and contractor) for the Monument.We are now ready at the end of 2021, with prototype in hand, to start the process of finding and selecting a contractor to fabricate and install the Monument. As you know, we are fortunate to have raised from you (added to the City’s contribution) all of the funds needed to fabricate, construct and install the Monument. FAM will be working in partnership with the City of West Hollywood throughout the lengthy but important process of: finding interested and qualified contractors (a request for qualifications was sent out on December ___); receiving and reviewing their bids; choosing (with City Council approval) and signing a contract with a contractor; getting final construction documents drawn up and approved by the City; fabricating the traces and other components of the Monument; shipping all those materials to West Hollywood; and (finally!) installing the Monument in the Park. Hopefully, supply chain and shipping challenges will have eased by the time we are ready to fabricate and then ship the materials for the Monument.We truly appreciate your patience in this long process, but the end is in sight, and when it’s done we will have a magnificent important work of art about which all of can be proud.
Finally, Board Vice Chair Phill Wilson has decided to resign his position and instead continue to work with FAM in an informal consultant position. We appreciate Phill’s dedicated board service, insight and leadership over the past two years and look forward to working with him in the future as he helps us with our STORIES Circles events, interviews and other projects that he can fit into his busy schedule.
With gratitude, wishing you the best this holiday season.