Spotlight Indianapolis

When David Hochoy and Rob McPherson created what we know as the Spotlight AIDS Benefit 16 years ago, it was called Partners Performing for Life, and it wasn't necessarily a popular event.

Today, the annual Spotlight AIDS Benefit shows us just how far a vision can go.

At this years performance, Spotlight drew over 1,200 spectators to the Clowes Hall auditorium, in addition to hundreds of volunteer stagehands, musicians, lighting designers and numerous professional groups that donated their time to help rake in over $350,000 for HIV prevention all in a single night.

For Hochoy, the artistic director of Dance Kaleidoscope, and McPherson the creation of Spotlight was largely personal.

David and I were losing a lot of friends, McPherson said. And a lot of people in the arts community were getting sick and dying. We just felt that we needed to do something.

For McPherson, getting the arts community involved was an essential step in addressing the misconceptions surrounding AIDS that were circling in the early 90s.

There was this stigma about the disease. People thought it was just in the gay community, he said. And back then, the arts werent doing anything on a big scale to raise money for people with HIV.

Today, Spotlight represents the collegiality, collaboration and partnership that denote the artistic community here in Indy as well as the spirit of the community at large. In fact, the event has now raised over $4 million.

Its amazing at how generously the community has responded to this event, McPherson said. This kind of awareness and support is exactly the kind of attitude thats going to continue to move our arts community forward.

Looking toward the future, McPherson hopes that the people of Indianapolis begin to express their pride in celebration of the outstanding artistic quality in the city.

Hoosiers are just too humble sometimes, he said.

I would love for the entire city to celebrate art and artists the way that it celebrates amateur sports, Hochoy added. This is my vision. People just go crazy for sports, and I think it would be fantastic if people had the same energy for the arts. We need art in our lives because its beauty that inspires us. Beauty is the gateway to the soul. Its how we know that we are spiritual creatures.

Michelle Skinner

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