NAMES Project, AIDS Memorial Quilt May Leave San Francisco
The San Francisco-based NAMES Project Foundation, along with the "beloved" AIDS Memorial Quilt, may move from its "pricey" San Francisco headquarters to "cheaper digs" on the East Coast, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The NAMES Project said it plans to move its headquarters to Washington, D.C., and relocate the 45,000-panel quilt to Atlanta. The Chronicle reports that the move is necessary because the foundation's office lease will not be renewed beyond March 2003. Edward Gatta, president of the foundation's board of directors, said the move "hinges on whether the organization can sublet its office or convince the landlord to buy out the remainder of the lease." Quilt officials sent notification letters to the foundation's 46 chapters nationwide after discussing the move at a national chapter conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., last March. Gatta added, "We've been working on this for more than two years. We'd like to take the quilt and our program to be closer to the CDC (in Atlanta), where we can collaborate with other groups on our prevention and education efforts."
An Angry Goodbye?
But the potential move has "upset" some local AIDS activists, who argued that the quilt should remain in the Bay Area. Felicia Elizondo, co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, has sewn more than 50 panels on the quilt and said she felt "betrayed" that the foundation "didn't announce its plans widely," the Chronicle reports. Elizondo said, "It's catching everybody by surprise. Why they're taking the quilt out of California, I don't understand. ... My quilts are not going with them. If I have to go to a lawyer, I will." Rick McCormack, a Names Project volunteer for nine years, added, "As word gets out [about the quilt relocation], people are coming up to me expressing that they aren't happy about it." But Quilt founder Cleve Jones defended the quilt's move to Atlanta, saying, "I think it will strengthen our ability to use the quilt to fight AIDS. It will help us strengthen our national network. This is a good thing for us that has been planned for years." AIDS activists in Atlanta said they will "welcome" the quilt with "open arms." More than 13 million people have visited the quilt at "thousands" of displays around the world (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/6).