Editor's Note: Guest blogger Josh Verbeke is a student at IUPUI and a longtime LGBT activist. Josh attended Spotlight 2009 on behalf of Bilerico-Indiana.
Monday at Clowes Hall of Butler University, a one-night gala performance earned over $350,000. The money, earned from ticket sales, a silent auction, and donations, will go toward grants to treatment facilities and increasing awareness in the state to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS.
Featured at the event were performers ranging from the Indianapolis Children's Choir's performance of "Georgia on My Mind" by Indiana native Hoagy Charmichael to drag performer Asia LaBouche of "The Ladies of Legends" at Talbott Street performing "River Deep - Mountain High" by Celine Dion.
Butler Ballet entertained with a piece from "Cinderella," and Gregory Hancock Dance Theater put on an exquisite Indian dance performance. Among others were the Indiana Repertory Theater, Dance Kaleidoscope, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Perhaps the most moving to the audience was a surprise performance by noted Indianapolis native poet, model, and author Tasha Jones. She reminded the audience of the importance that HIV/AIDS is an issue affecting everyone.
"HIV is having a casting call," she said.
A video compilation played between acts that also featured Tasha's work interspersed with messages from community members living with AIDS and Paula French, co-founder and co-executive director of Step Up, an STD safety and awareness organization working with the Indiana State Department of Health.
The message was clear that HIV/AIDS prevention is far more cost effective than treatment. Local clinics and organizations such as The Bellflower Clinic, Step Up and The Damien Center offer services like free testing, literature, and counseling.
Step Up goes to local bars and clubs to offer on-the-spot 20 minute rapid result testing. They also make safe sex packets by the thousands, which include condoms, lubrication, and a free STI test coupon.
Without events like Spotlight 2009, many local organizations would miss out on the funding they get from grants. While private donors provide funds, it pales in comparison to the money an event like Spotlight brings in.
Some of the silent auction items included "A Night Out." Different selections at the table included a gift certificate to the Eagle's Nest for &100, a massage and hotel room combination, or a spa retreat.
Also on the silent auction tables were art, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra tickets, and home-made blankets. Patrons lined up at the small bar for drinks or snacks and perused the items during intermission.
The event was presented by The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis and the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund Benefiting the Indiana AIDS Fund. Sponsors were divided into Presenting Sponsors, Partners, Patrons, Supporters, Friends, Presenting Media Sponsors, Media Sponsors, In Kind Donors, and Student Ticket Program Donors.