Atlanta-Based NAMES Project Foundation’s New Regulations Prompt Closure of Several Local Chapters
The Washington, D.C.-area chapter of the NAMES Project Foundation -- the organization responsible for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which "pays tribute" to those who have died from AIDS-related causes -- is disbanding after the Atlanta-based foundation imposed new guidelines on local chapters that limit exhibition times of the quilt, the Washington Post reports. The national capital area chapter and several other local chapters have ceased operations after the foundation imposed the new guidelines that would prevent locally arranged quilt viewings during four months of the year. "When it comes right down to it, the quilt was a way of putting a tangible object in front of school children to explain an epidemic," D.C. chapter board member Bryon Fusini said, adding, "We were not going to have that available to us, so that caused us to rethink what our chapter was about." NAMES Project Foundation Managing Director Julie Rhoad said that the decision to limit local access to the quilt was "collaborative, not autocratic," citing obligations to allow panel makers and display hosts and committees access to the quilt. The D.C. chapter, which arranged 155 viewings of quilt portions last year and says it has reached two million viewers in its 13-year history, also opposed new guidelines that would increase foundation control of individual chapters' fundraising and budgets. "We weren't open to sacrificing our independence to their administrative operation, which does not have a good track record," chapter board member Michael Bento said, citing the financial "struggle[s]" that brought the foundation near closure in 2000. Last year, the foundation moved its headquarters and the quilt from San Francisco to Atlanta. Although the closure of the D.C. chapter will "leave a hole," the quilt will continue to be shown nationwide, Rhoad said. "Quilt is always on the road," she added (Goldstein, Washington Post, 3/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.