Chicago Academy for the Arts

August 16, 2021

Few things make us prouder to be a part of the Academy family than our annual AIDS Benefit. Founded by
alum Justin Tranter more than two decades ago, the AIDS Benefit has been student-run ever since: passed
down from director to assistant director in an unbroken chain since its founding. It’s one of our most important
traditions — a “homecoming” of sorts for a community that, instead of sports and dances, celebrates the
power of the arts to create community, bring joy, and change lives.

Over the years, the event has attracted the attention of news organizations across the city (including WGN,
Block Club Chicago, The Beverly Review, and WBBM Newsradio). Additionally, the last Benefit that took place
in the building attracted the attention of Mayor Lightfoot.

The attention was well deserved, not only because of the purpose of the event, but for the excellent work it
showcased. Students routinely devise a performance showcasing students’ virtuosity, often taking on
challenges outside of their major, and the performance represents excellence as deeply as the event represents
purpose.


More on the AIDS Benefit

Each year, Academy students produce and perform in a benefit show to support HIV/AIDS research. The 25th
Annual AIDS Benefit will take place September 24 and 25. Students from each department will present new
work, under the sole direction and curation of student leadership. The director and assistant director of this
benefit each year are students, which makes this benefit a completely student-run production. All proceeds
after costs go to The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Our goal is to raise $10,000!

This event means the world to the students. More important, is the effect that the money we raise has on the
health of mothers and children that rely on the charities we donate to each year. There is a greater urgency this
year to raise funds due to the fact that many benefits and fundraisers have been canceled or postponed. These
people and this cause cannot wait.


Since its beginning in 1997, the AIDS Benefit has become one of the staples of The Academy community.
Twenty-one years ago, Musical Theatre Department alum, and now hit songwriter Justin Tranter (Justin
Bieber’s “Sorry,” Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries”) had a beautiful idea to put together a student-run variety show
that could help raise awareness and advocacy for HIV/AIDS. His vision was to create an entirely student-run
show without faculty direction or oversight, but also one that could benefit a great cause.

In the years since the event’s inception, Academy students have raised tens of thousands of dollars for AIDS
research, support, care, and organizations.


We are happy to celebrate The Academy’s 24th anniversary of the AIDS Benefit, and look forward to making it
the most successful one yet. Join us in being a part of the experience, and help make a real difference within
our community at the 2021 AIDS Benefit.