The ARTS&AIDS Festival – Campaign for raising public awareness about HIV/AIDS was launched in 2006 and repeated in 2007.

In running this campaign, together with Romanian Angel Appeal, several companies also brought their contribution: Pizza Hut, KFC, Generali Insurance, Quadrant-Amroq Beverages and Iridex Group.

Our partners in organizing and running this campaign were ARCUB, Movieplex, “Grigore Preoteasa” Students House, Accept Association Romania, Romanian Association Against AIDS (ARAS), The National Union of Organizations of People Affected by HIV/AIDS (UNOPA), Zimbrii.ro, MediaORG, Cold Fusion, Webpro, ICEP World si Rospotline.

Media partners: Tabu, Popcorn, CityFM, 121.ro, En-joy.ro, Fotomagazin si MTV Romania;

In 2006, we celebrated 15 years since Romanian Angel Appeal develops projects in Romania. For this reason we wanted to organize a special event to mark this anniversary and, at the same time, to draw attention to the major medical, social and economic implications that HIV/AIDS epidemic can have. Considered the “disease of the century”, the HIV infection is present in our lives, even if only as art subject.

We wanted to make the anniversary of 15 years since Romanian Angel Appeal was established an opportunity to think about the condition, respect and support the people living with HIV/AIDS need from the community and, at the same time, an opportunity to talk to people about health, tolerance, help, support, integration, talent and art.

The campaign’s objectives were:

  1. to make public the issue of HIV/AIDS through discussions and debates on artistic subjects. Art that reflects HIV/AIDS problematic, in its various shapes and forms, had and still has a great impact on public opinion and collective conscience.
  2. to reduce and eliminate stigma and discrimination affecting people living with HIV/AIDS.
  3. to increase the visibility of programs and activities that the non-governmental organizations active in the HIV/AIDS area carry out;
  4. to promote prevention and care services provided by Romanian Angel Appeal.

The 5 days of the festival had as central theme HIV and AIDS through a variety of events:

· “Hidden legacy” photo-story shot by British photographer Hazel Thomson which caught on film moments from the lives of HIV positive teenagers; to this were added photographs taken by the HV positive young people themselves within the competition called “The world through my eyes”;

· Media spots that approached social subjects such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), drug use and associated risks etc;

· Forum theatre play “6 characters looking for an warm audience”, staged by ARAS team;

· The movie RENT, inspired by the homonymous rock opera play considered the HAIR of the ’90s, was premiered in Romania at the festival. Later broadcasted by important TV stations with national coverage, the movie was, in fact, a plea for tolerance and mutual help. About kindness and solidarity. RENT is a musical that tells the audience the story of several stories: 6 young people, with different interests, from different cultural and social environments but with one common element: they are all HIV positive. Redefining the present and the future in accordance with this reality leads, as the action develops, to situations when the lesson of life is about courage and solidarity.

· Marathon-concert “Somebody’s child” with artists and bands such as Vita de Vie, Omul cu Sobolani, Sarmalele Reci, Zob, Simona Radu, Florin Chilian, Byron, etc;

The festival enjoyed attention both from the public and from the media: press articles (Jurnalul National, Cotidianul, Romania Libera, Compact, Gandul), TV interviews (TVR Cultural, Sensi, TVR1, Antena 3, Antena 1, MTV). 40 websites mentioned the event as well as magazines such as 24FUN, Photo Magazine, Tabu, Popcorn etc.

In addition, during the festival, 6 press releases were sent to the press (one for the global event and one for each day of running) and the RAA site was visited by more than 5.500 people, in that time period and after.

The impact of the festival on the public was impressive. The participants, who came in far larger numbers than the organizers expected, showed their enthusiasm toward this kind of event, asking for a second one.

At the end, considering the feedback from the audience received either directly by the team or indirectly through comments posted on the internet, we can only say that “a helpful hand says more than a thousand words”.

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