Final analysis

The Performing Arts Renaissance of the 20th century: A research and analysis on performing arts culture’s effect on the AIDS movement in America


(Early protest of AIDS being broken up by the police)

In the 1980’s fear and misjudgment of HIV/AIDs became rampant and out of control. Since the first recorded discovery of AIDS in the United States in 1981 the nation realized the health crisis that had begun. When people started to notice that it was only gay men that were getting the disease the LGBT community started to get target. From an online article by Allen White, a vertan journalist and advent supporter of LGBT and AIDS awareness, Gay men “found themselves targeted with an unprecedented level of mean-spirited hostility” from the general public, especially the radical Christian communities. White’s article also brings up that thousands were dying from AIDS and the government did nothing to help, Ronald Reagan (the president at the time) blatantly ignored the growing threat of AIDS in order to retain his support of the Christian community and Christian political action groups. Reagan’s own communications director commented that “AIDS is nature’s revenge on gay men” (White). It was not until 1984, three years after the AIDS crisis had started, that the cause of AIDS was found but no vaccines were able to be made and gay men all around the country continued to be persecuted. It was in these dark moments that activist and support organizations came to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS and began the fight on AIDS.

(logo and sign of the NAMES project Atlanta)

One such group was the NAMES project headquartered in Atlanta, a foundation that raised awareness for AIDS by displaying handmade quilts donated by AIDS victim’s loved one. Thousands began making and donating quilts to show the public the lives and memories of the victims of AIDS. Today they have approximately over 5000 quilts (given by NAMES project director) and the one that will be analyzed is the quilt of Glenn S. Fox and its embodiment to the performing arts and the greater AIDS crisis in America. The quilt is made of linen cloth and has a 3ft x 6ft dimension with a portrait of Glenn in the middle and several hand sewn patches that surround the portrait. But what most interesting part of the quilt is its embodiment of fine and performing art around the portrait that speaks to the deeper meaning the quilt.

(the quilt of Glenn S. Fox provided by NAMES project director)

 The quilt panel’s embodiment of the fine and performing arts community testifies to the powerful role that the arts communities have played in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in their support of individuals suffering from the disease, their contributions in effort to shape public opinion towards those suffering, empowering individuals with the disease, and their funding raising for the AIDS movement cause. Many of these patches are embodiments of the fine and performing arts, on the lower left-hand corner there are a pair of dancing shoes with the caption “I’d rather be dancing” and the on the right of the portrait is the two Greek drama muses eluding to the theater. Some of the other patches that embody the arts are a number of painting scattered across the quilt (for more information on the quilt and detailed descriptions click here).

The arts embodied in Glenn’s quilt has a very strong presence as if the arts are a major significance to his life and what made him who he was. Letters from the friends and families who made the quilt even elude to the embodiment of the arts in the quilt. Glenn’s friends Bruce and Rose mentions their “yearly visit to the theater” expressing Glenn’s invest interest in the theater and another from his cousin who described Glenn as “dancing through life like a summer breeze” eluding to him being characterized as having the grace and elegance of dancer. Through the individual patches on the panels and letters from those who made the quilt, it is clear that the performing arts are meant to embodied into the quilt.

On the subject of performing arts and their relationship with HIV/AIDS, it can be said that both had a symbiotic relationship with one another. In particular the dancing and theater community gave unwavering support to individuals with HIV/AIDS and the greater AIDS community and through that support the AIDS community became a catalyst for both dance and theater to change the style and meaning of their performance. The performing arts community in America became fully immersed with helping the AIDS movement, they gave heart and passion to the movement that they thought was worth fighting for. What these communities did for HIV/AIDS is more than just charitable giving but love and support that someone would give to family or loved ones. Just like the love and passion that Glenn gave to his family and loved one and that they gave to him. Which ties back the Glenn’s quilt and its relationship with AIDS through its quilt’s embodiment of fine and performing arts.


  • Performing arts became more than just a form of art but a form of political meaning. With heart moving performance and awe inspiring stories they became a strong group in AIDS activism and continue to dance on to this day. (For the entire analysis and story click here)
(Neil Greenberg in “Not-About-AIDS-Dance,” 1994. Photo)





  • The mental toll that AIDS caused was unpleasant to say the lease. Proven to cause clinical depression and trauma many people have fallen deeper into depravity. But with the help of the theater the performing arts community banded together and hosted empowering plays that helped many to get themselves out of the ditch. (Want to know more? click here)

(“120 Beats Per Minute” Is An Urgent & Riveting AIDS Activism Drama)





  • With so much negativity on AIDS the victims of the disease neglected by the rest of society. With so much weight on victim’s shoulders this neglect from the rest of the country was the last thing they needed. Performance arts stepped in hopes of change public opinion on the AIDS virus and the people that are burdened with the consequences. (To get the full scoop click here)

(The 1993 play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by American playwright)




  • To run a campaign this large and on such a vast scale money funding is needed to continue. Many performing arts groups and foundations have all done their part to give what they can to the ongoing AIDS movement. From large to small donations these groups have certainly made their intensions clear. (Interested? click here)
(concert for AIDS funding and awareness)






  • Glenn S. Fox’s panel embodies the compassion and love that performing arts gave to the HIV/AIDS community. They used dance and theaters as a form of activism and empowerment that reshaped how the public saw victims of AIDS and even how victims saw themselves in society. Performing arts made a culture and community around AIDS to embody their undying loyalty and support to help ensure that victims will not be left unheard. The performing art community and AIDS community from the start a part of each other, since many fallen victims to AIDS were in dancer, theater, or musical community. Individual stepped up from these communities and lead them to fight for one of the worst disease crises’ in 20th and 21th century. Each did their part in marvelous fashion whether it was of minor or major significance to the AIDS movement their compassionate relationship with AIDS community is undeniable.