Bono has joined forces with legendary street artist Shepard Fairey for a new initiative to raise awareness and money in the continued effort to rid the planet of AIDS. The U2 frontman and co-founder of the global AIDS charity RED, has enlisted the efforts of 17 artists to paint murals in Manhattan, New York, Washington, D.C., Lyon, London, Berlin, and Paris in the lead-up to the October 10th Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Lyon.
Bono said in a statement, “Street artists have been raising the alarm in the fight against AIDS since HIV appeared — from the streets of New York in the 1980's, and now in the next weeks in cities around the world with Paint (RED) Save Lives. There has been a lot of progress, more than many experts predicted, but not enough yet to put the sirens to rest. Young women continue to bear the brunt of this disease and maddeningly, every week 6,000 of them are needlessly infected. I'd call that an emergency. (RED) is the color of emergency.”
Billboard reported, “The artworks are intended to engage and encourage political leaders to fully fund the fight against AIDS, with key sites getting transformed during this month and early October ahead of the Global Fund meeting that will determine funding for the next three years to help save 16 million lives while cutting the mortality rate from HIV, TB, and malaria in half.”
Bono has always had a higher profile than his bandmates, and U2 guitarist The Edge told us that the other members of the band are comfortable with the role their singer plays outside the group: “We certainly debate. Certainly early on we did a lot more because I felt personally that there was a risk of things being misinterpreted or his intentions being called into question. But I think at this point in time, y'know, it's so well established what he's up to and what his agenda is. I don't think there's much chance of people misinterpreting or, y'know, getting confused or let down.”
For years, Bono has been speaking out about the AIDS crisis in Africa. He explained it's up to everyone to defeat the problem: “We have to act collectively to be effective here. The scale of the response has to match the scale of the problem. I've got this song that I am singing, and I keep thinking that if I sing it loud enough and insistent enough, well then, popes or presidents, bankers, bureaucrats, heads of extraordinary corporations, will join the growing chorus of the sane response to what is an insane situation.”
U2 will next perform on November 8th in Auckland, New Zealand.