Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions

There are many AIDS Memorials worldwide. Why does Palm Springs need an AIDS Memorial?

During the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, Palm Springs had a national reputation for being a welcoming and caring environment. Many people living with HIV and AIDS chose to move to Palm Springs, seeking comfort and care here. Many thought they were coming here to die in one of the few places in our country where they could find compassionate care. 

As a result of the national launch of the “AIDS cocktail” and our City’s reputation as a place of compassionate care and acceptance, Palm Springs has one of the highest urban concentrations of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. 

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial in the Downtown Park will give residents and visitors a place to gather, share stories, and reflect on the impact of HIV/AIDS. The Memorial will be a space to remember and celebrate those we’ve lost while also acknowledging the support of long-term survivors, family members, and caregivers. 

Where will the Memorial be located?

The City of Palm Springs has generously allocated a central, prominent space in the Downtown Park.

Why was the Downtown Park location chosen instead of other options?

Our goal is to maximize the number of people who will have the opportunity to become aware of HIV/AIDS and its stories. 

We are happy with the Memorial’s location because…

  • …it will allow the many people who use the Downtown Park daily to see the Memorial.
  • …it will reach a much broader audience than in a smaller or less central park. 

Who is sponsoring this Memorial?

The Memorial is a gift to the City and the community. 

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force leads the initiative and fundraising. The Task Force comprises volunteer artists, designers, and community members, most of whom have significant experience with other AIDS Memorials. 

How do you hope this Memorial will impact visitors?

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial will be a site where the lives of those lost will be forever remembered, forever loved, and forever celebrated. We aim to establish this Memorial as a place to convene, remember, grieve, and heal. 

We hope that people will be influenced by, educated about, and inspired to act around the historical as well as present realities of the AIDS epidemic.

Who will take care of the Memorial after it is installed?

Since this is a gift to the City of Palm Springs and the Memorial will be located in the City-owned Downtown Park, the City will be responsible for the maintenance of the Memorial itself. 

How much will the Memorial cost?

Since the design, material, and fabrication selection have not yet been completed, we do not have a fabrication estimate at this time. In the meantime, we continue collecting funds for the physical structure and the digital component.

How can I contribute to the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial?

  1. Donate: Every donation goes toward the design, fabrication, and digital component of the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial.
    • DAP Health is a charitable, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. DAP Health has not provided any goods or services in return for your contribution. Tax ID: 33-0068583
    • For donation assistance, please e-mail Paul Clowers at AIDSMemorialPS@DevDeptInc.com or call (760) 669-3366. 
  1. Stay Connected
    • Join the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial support community by signing up for our mailing list at the bottom of our home page: psaidsmemorial.org/#contact

What are your donations to date?

More than $500,000 has been raised or pledged from more than 450 Coachella Valley residents and some private trusts and businesses. All funds are sitting in a unique DAP Health bank account. 

When the new design is finalized and approved, cost estimates will be updated, and another fundraising initiative will be launched. In the meantime, we welcome donations here: psaidsmemorial.org/community-leadership-donor-tiers/

Timeline Questions

When will a new design be completed?

Our target, subject to change, is to have a new design direction by the end of Fall 2024. See Question #15 for the community input we received.

What happens after you complete the new design?

Following design completion, our Task Force will present to the Public Arts Commission for review and acceptance. After that, it will be presented to the Palm Springs City Council for approval. Once the Council approves the new design, the artist and Task Force will source fabricators and create a detailed timeline from fabrication to installation of our new Memorial.

Will the public preview the new design before the Public Arts Commission?

Our Task Force and designer have extensive experience with the memorial development process. We know that “design by committee” is ineffective, and no design will satisfy everyone. With this said, we are committed to keeping the public informed as we progress. 

Please add yourself to our mailing list to receive updates. The form is at the bottom of our home page here: https://psaidsmemorial.org/#contact

Will the public be allowed any opportunity to comment on the new design?

Yes, all Public Arts Commission and City Council meetings are open to the public; people can attend the meetings and comment. We will communicate the dates of all public meetings. 

Please add yourself to our mailing list at the bottom of our home page: https://psaidsmemorial.org/#contact

When will the new Memorial be unveiled?

We aim to design, fabricate, and install the Memorial to be officially unveiled from 2025 to the Spring of 2026.

Design Questions

You recently held a series of community listening sessions and a town hall. What did you learn from these?

From February to March 2024, the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force conducted five small-scale listening sessions and held a public Town Hall-style session.

We heard a wide range of emotions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and expectations from many Coachella Valley residents. The Task Force compiled everything into a document that guides the new design. 

Who is designing the sculpture?

Award-winning and internationally renowned artist Philip K. Smith III, a local resident, agreed to design the sculpture as a donation to our community (pro bono). Phillip is well-versed in our desert’s light, beauty, and community. Phillip is known for creating large-scale temporary and permanent installations.

Phillip’s accolades include:

  • His public artworks are located internationally, from Los Angeles to Kansas City to Milan and beyond. 
  • Desert installations from 2013’s Lucid Stead in Joshua Tree, CA, to his Circle of Land and Sky in the inaugural 2017 Desert X.
  • Solo exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 2023
  • Featured in hundreds of online and print publications
  • Most recently, Phillip was commissioned to create permanent, light-based works for West Hollywood, CA, Scottsdale, AZ, and Bellevue, WA.

What else will there be in addition to the Memorial structure?

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial will have three components: the site, the sculpture, and the online experience. 

The online experience will be an extension of the physical Memorial, able to create an even richer and informative experience, including, for example, recordings of people’s stories and experiences with HIV/AIDS. The online experience is being designed simultaneously with the Memorial design process. More details on the online experience will be communicated as we develop the site.

Will names be inscribed on the Memorial structure?

HIV/AIDS is still infecting and killing people. Therefore, if we inscribe names, the list would be obsolete on day one. The National AIDS Memorial is now experiencing this exact issue. We intend to create a timeless Memorial while creating a global and personal connection.

Task Force Questions

Who is on the Task Force?

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force leads the overall initiative of this project and is comprised of volunteer artists, designers, and community members, many of whom have experience with other AIDS Memorials. 

The Task Force consists of:

  • Dan Spencer is an architect in HIV/AIDS-related projects such as HIV/AIDS Clinics, social service centers, and memorials. He was on the winning design team for the international Key West AIDS Memorial competition. The Memorial was completed in 1997. In 2012, Dan presented “Memory and Memorials,” proposing that Palm Springs create its own AIDS Memorial.
  • Jeffrey Jurasky is an accomplished designer and graphic designer who studied architecture and founded Jurasky & Associates, Inc. He lost two very close mentors to AIDS, so for Jeffrey, the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial will honor them as well as hundreds of thousands of others.
  • Mike Richey is the Co-Chair of the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco, California. Like so many others, Mike’s losses due to AIDS have been a dark cloud. He is committed to ensuring that loved ones are remembered and their stories are shared.
  • Stuart Kent started his passion for memorializing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1992 by volunteering to help build the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco. He lost too many friends in the 1980s and 1990s. He moved with his husband to Palm Springs in 2019 where he joined the Task Force to continue his passion for contributing to his new community. 
  • Arturo Fernandez has lived with HIV/AIDs for over 30 years. He is a former professional dancer, ballet master, and long-time Alonzo King LINES Ballet staff member. He retired to the Coachella Valley with his husband in September 2020. The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial is near and dear to his heart as the disease has devastated so many areas of his life. 
  • Dana Manciagli, a full-time resident of the Palm Springs area, has deep experience with multiple non-profits and leading major initiatives. She is leveraging her corporate marketing background to help make the Palm Springs Memorial as impactful as possible.

  • Karyl E. Ketchum, Ph.D., is the Department Chair of Gender and Queer Studies at Cal State Fullerton. She sees the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial as a way of preserving the horrific memory of how institutionalized prejudice devastated an entire generation, but also how love and the creation of caring communities can change the course of both a terrible disease and an entire culture.

We also want to acknowledge the contributions of our previous Task Force members:

  • Todd Hover was living in West Hollywood at the start of the AIDS crisis over thirty years ago. Over the years, he lost everyone important to him. He moved to Palm Springs full-time and became a founding member of the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force. 
  • Ann Sheffer is an arts advocate and patron and has been deeply involved nationally in private, foundation, and government funding for the arts. She is a former chair of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, former chair of the Arts for Inland Empire (IE) Fund, and founding member of the Palm Springs Sister Cities board.