BY GEORGE MARATOS

On Dec. 1, art lovers are being encouraged to come to the Yukon Artists @ Work studio, 15 minutes south of Whitehorse, in the McCrae Industrial Area.

It is there that an estimated 20 pieces of original artwork will be up for grabs via silent auction.

It is part of the second annual Keeping the Flame Burning AIDS and Arts Event.

The fundraising initiative is being put on in conjunction with the Yukon Global Arts Jam held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights.

Patricia Bacon, executive director at Blood Ties Four Directions, is coordinating the AIDS and Arts event and she says it is essential the organization be involved in the near month-long celebration.

She adds having an arts event to celebrate World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and AIDS Awareness Week is a prime example of just how evolved World AIDS Day has become.

“Back in the 80s and 90s, the artistic community particularly was hit hard by HIV,” explains Bacon. “Therefore, World AIDS Day was marked as a day without art and, with that, art would be covered and there would be no recognition. It was done as a way of honouring the artists whose lives were lost.”

Today it is the polar opposite.

The various works of art being made for the event are all being done by the artists in commemoration of a person who is living with or has lost their life to AIDS.

Bacon says she isn’t sure what styles of artwork will be up for auction, but if it is anything like the inaugural event last year, which garnered close to $3,000, a variety of different forms can be expected.

“It’s very exciting because we don’t know what is going to be created and displayed.”

All money raised from the silent auction is going to be donated to help fund AIDS programming in the territory.

Bacon says that includes support programming for those living with HIV or those at risk, including the homeless and those dealing with alcohol-fueled issues.

The AIDS advocate notes steps are being made, but there is room to grow, when it comes to education and awareness about AIDS.

“We need to keep letting people know that AIDS still exists in Canada and the Yukon and it’s still a worldwide problem,” said Bacon. “There’s still a need to reduce stigma and raise our compassion for lives living with HIV.

And Bacon says events like the AIDS and Arts Event are just the right method to do so.

It’s a great collaboration and a very generous donation by so many artists,” said Bacon. It’s a real labor of love for them and for the public to come out and support and receive a great piece of art and all for a great cause, too, is excellent.”

The artwork will be on display from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 at various locations throughout Whitehorse. Then, on World AIDS Day (Dec.1), all the artwork will be shown at the YA@W studio (28 Glacier Road) and a silent auction will be held with all the funds raised going towards AIDS programming.

Admission is free but non-perishable items are being accepted.