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Award-Winning Medicine Wheel Returns to the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts on Dec. 1 for 24-hour Vigil Recognizing World AIDS Day
Date:11/15/2007

Water bearers from Fort Point Channel to the Cyclorama mark 16th Annual 24-hour vigil

BOSTON, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Artist Michael Dowling is inviting thousands of youth to process with black and copper buckets filled with water from Fort Point Channel in South Boston into The Boston Center for the Arts as part of the annual 24-hour vigil to honor World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. The annual event was named Best Project in a Public Space by the Association Int'l des Critiques d'Art's New England Chapter in 2006. According to U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), approximately one-half of new HIV infections occur in people under 25 years of age.

Processions begin at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts on Tremont Street in the South End. Starting at 11 p.m. on Nov. 30 and continuing for the 24 hours of December 1, people will make short processions to Fort Point Channel and back to the Boston Center for the Arts, where their water will become part of the growing installation of thousands of copper-lined buckets illuminated with a candle as they enter the Cyclorama. The 24-hour vigil blends the grace of public art with the gravity of the public health message regarding youth and HIV/AIDS.

"Each bucket is a meditation -- on the vulnerability of our youth, on the frailty of humanity, but also on our ability to respond with hope and awareness." said Michael Dowling, Artistic Director, Medicine Wheel Productions, the creator and producer of this powerful annual event. "When we see thousands of buckets in a room and imagine that number of youth will become infected this year, the statistics mean something. At the same time, the art is beautiful, as is the statement the youth are making by coming together. Response has been phenomenal -- youth groups from the inner-city to the suburbs, as far away as Worcester, are taking part."

Dowling invites the public to participate, either by joining the water-bearers processions or by coming to the Cyclorama for any period during the twenty-four hours of December 1. "People bring sleeping bags and spend the night at Medicine Wheel; dozens of artists add the gift of their art with dance, music, singing and spoken word within the installation."

"We are honored to collaborate formally with Medicine Wheel and Michael [Dowling]; for years we have had staff from our hotlines and our HIV Health Library on-site at the Medicine Wheel event." said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director, AAC, which has served people with HIV/AIDS for 24 years and operates HIV, STD, Hepatitis and Pharmacy Access hotlines statewide. "We were able to raise the profile of Medicine Wheel's Water Bearers initiative during Boston AIDS Walk this past June, giving exposure to the project to more than 18,000 AIDS Walk participants as a prelude to this World AIDS Day initiative."

"The Cyclorama is the historic home of The Medicine Wheel, and we are very proud of that. In our role as a community cornerstone for the arts we see a powerful link between the arts, social justice and public health," said Libbie Shufro, president and CEO of Boston Center for the Arts. "Our flexible space is ideal for Michael's tremendously versatile, creative expression each year, and we are awed by the topic and inspired by the possibilities he has made real for nearly two decades."

The Medicine Wheel Youth Program has expanded from 15 young people four years ago to more than 90 in its art mentorship programs today. Many of the young people in the program are at high risk of poverty, drug use and violence. Statistics show that these same youth are often at higher risk of contracting HIV.

"Our kids have been pivotal to the success of this project, calling youth groups across the state and leading forums on youth and HIV for months now," said Dowling, "Water Bearers has been helping all the youth who become involved to see themselves as the idealists, reformers, humanitarians, innovators and inventors and, most importantly, the communicators of their generation," said Dowling. "This project teaches them generosity and fosters humanitarian actions dedicated to the cause of human fellowship and the service of a common good."

Medicine Wheel Productions

Medicine Wheel Productions is an arts organization that invites community participation in creating powerful public art. The organization engages in large-scale public art projects, has a Studio School, and runs the Medicine Wheel Youth Program, a year-round arts mentorship program for inner city youth. All programs and projects overlap and reinforce one another, emphasizing the transformative power of inclusive public art which gives voice to communities, to artists, and to youth. Medicine Wheel Productions was just selected for inclusion in the 2007 Catalogue for Philanthropy. More info at http://www.medicinewheelproductions.org.

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc.

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc., (AAC), New England's first and largest AIDS organization, is dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS by preventing new infections and optimizing the health of those already infected. AAC provides free confidential HIV rapid testing at its MALE Center in Boston's South End and free confidential services to men and women already living with HIV/AIDS, as well as conducts extensive educational and prevention outreach to those at risk of infection. AAC runs the only statewide AIDS Hotline (1.800.235.2331), Hepatitis Hotline (1.888.443.4372) and Pharmacy Access Hotline (1.800.988.5209). AAC also advocates for effective science-based prevention programs. More information is available at http://www.aac.org.

Boston Center for The Arts / Cyclorama

The Boston Center for the Arts is a not-for-profit performing and visual arts complex that supports working artists to create, perform and exhibit new works, builds new audiences, and connects art to community. http://www.bcaonline.org.

CONTACT: Nancy Kilburn, 617-268-6700, Nancy.kilburn@mwp.org or Diego Sanchez, APR, 617-450-1524, M: 617-835-1455, dsanchez@aac.org, or Alyssa DiPasquale, 617-426-1522, adipasquale@bcaonline.org


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SOURCE AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc.
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