Fewer Orange County arts groups will observe Day Without Art on Monday than in previous years, and those that are commemorating the devastation AIDS has wrought throughout the arts are doing so on a smaller scale.
Preoccupation with day-to-day business and low attendance at such events last year are the main reasons cited by local arts officials.
Also, one prime mover behind earlier Day Without Art efforts, Opera Pacific spokesman Tim Dunn, left the county during the year.
Recent advancements in AIDS treatments may also have played a role, said a county health official.
"Some of the latest news about more effective therapies has perhaps given rise to some complacency," said Penny Weismuller, manager for disease control at the Orange County Health Care Agency. "But the epidemic is not over."
The number of new AIDS cases among county residents reported between June 1996 and last June decreased by 44% from the same period the year before, Weismuller said. As of June 30, the number of reported AIDS cases in the county totaled 4,733, she said.
Visual AIDS, the New York coalition that launched Day Without Art in 1989, reports that this year's worldwide participation is comparable to last year's, when about 6,500 artists and arts organizations marked the day with special performances or by shrouding artworks or halting rehearsals to symbolize the toll AIDS has taken. Such artists as Rudolf Nureyev have died from the disease.
Last year, more than two dozen Orange County arts groups distributed thousands of fliers urging support for local AIDS organizations. But, as they had done in 1995, groups again abandoned ambitious joint performances, which had never drawn large audiences.
A smaller-scale effort, a reading of well-known arias, drew fewer than a dozen people to the 299-seat Founders Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, which this year will hang a large commemorative banner in its lobby for a week beginning Sunday.
"We felt that a banner is a much more public way of remembering those we have lost," said center spokesman Greg Patterson. Thousands who will attend center performances of "The King and I" during the week will see it.
Many arts organizations will be closed Monday, but other efforts planned next week include a free lecture by artist Fred Fehlau titled "Day Without AIDS" at noon on Tuesday at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach.
Pacific Symphony will give 650 complimentary tickets to the AIDS Services Foundation/Orange County in Irvine, and South Coast Repertory will stuff programs with fliers to help publicize such groups.
"We'll probably pay more attention next year," said SCR spokesman Cristofer Gross.