OSF's Daedalus Project raises $60,000

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Daedalus Project raised about $60,000 on Aug. 17 for organizations that support people with HIV and AIDS.

The funds from the 22nd annual event will be distributed to local, national and international nonprofits. Although the donation details haven't yet been worked out, but OnTrack Inc., the Harm Reduction Center of Southern Oregon and the Siskiyou County HIV/AIDS Foundation have all received money in the past.

"This is a way for this company and the community to recognize the importance of supporting people living with AIDS," said Paul Nicholson, the festival's executive director.

"For some of our grant recipients this is far and away the most significant single source of support they receive."

Last year, the festival raised $62,000 and gave $40,000 to OnTrack, a Rogue Valley group that operates a center for people with HIV and AIDS.

Festival officials are still counting up the money raised and haven't released an exact figure, Nicholson said.

The Daedalus project — named after Icarus' father in Greek mythology, who creates a way out of a maze — began in the late '80s after several OSF company members lost friends to AIDS, Nicholson said.

"We were losing friends all over the country and (OSF Artistic Associate James Edmondson) said we've got to do something about this. We've got to find someway of raising money to support them," he said.

In the beginning, the fundraiser was just a concert, but over the years it "grew and grew," becoming a daylong event, he said.

This year, eight OSF actors read Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika," in the early afternoon.

Next, a slew of company members participated in the evening variety show on the Elizabethan Stage. The finale of the first act was the popular Underwear Parade, where festival associates wore strange-looking skivvies and invited audience members to stuff money into their waistbands.

The parade alone raised $9,000, Nicholson said.

"People voted with their dollars on which was the best underwear," he said.

A group of ushers with "skimpy" attire raked in the most cash, he said.

A silent art auction on Aug. 18 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre also raised about $4,000 and a bake sale brought in the same amount.

Festival officials are relieved that the event raised nearly as much as in 2008, especially because of the recession this year.

"It's become evident that AIDS is not going away anytime in the near future and I believe Daedalus won't either," Nicholson said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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