DWA CFP 2025
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Visual AIDS invites artists and filmmakers to submit proposals for new video works highlighting stories of harm reduction and drug use and their intersection with HIV. Videos will premiere on December 1, 2025 at over 150 venues worldwide as part of Day With(out) Art / World AIDS Day.

Up to five selected artists will receive a $3,000 honorarium to produce a short video work (6–8 minutes).

Proposals will be reviewed by a jury including Eva Dewa Masyitha, Heather Edney, charles ryan long, and Leo Herrera.

How to Apply

To apply, please submit a 250 word video proposal, a personal statement, and work sample through the Google Form below. (A Google account is required to apply.)


DEADLINE EXTENDED: Sunday, July 7, 11:59PM EDT

Theme: Drug Use & Harm Reduction

For Day With(out) Art 2025, Visual AIDS will commission five short videos that center the experiences of drug users and harm reduction practices as they intersect with the ongoing HIV crisis.

Harm reduction has long been at the heart of the AIDS movement through practices like needle exchange and safe injection sites, and people who use drugs have been impacted by AIDS from the earliest days of the epidemic. Historically, stories about drug use and HIV have positioned people who use drugs as statistics or precarious subjects, rather than narrators or leaders of harm reduction practices. We rarely hear the voices of drug users, even within AIDS culture, and recreational drug use continues to be criminalized and stigmatized across the world.

We understand harm reduction as a framework that encourages meeting and supporting people where they are rather than prescribing a specific model of health and wellbeing. We hope to emphasize the invaluable role that harm reduction has played in saving lives and providing pathways to autonomy and community support. The 2025 program will reflect a broad range of perspectives and stories around these themes, while prioritizing the first person point of view of current and former drug users. Possible directions include videos that:

  • Share unspoken histories or new approaches to harm reduction—particularly from the perspective of drug users and people living with HIV

  • Reposition drug use from a narrative of personal responsibility/moral failing to a focus on systemic and institutional failures

  • Express stories focused on pleasure, sexuality, and joy or emphasize community support amongst users

  • Highlight the role drugs have played in relieving pain and anxiety, particularly as end of life support throughout the AIDS epidemic

  • Consider how drug use looks different, is accepted, stigmatized, or ignored across racialized and gendered experiences and/or across borders

  • Delve into stories of loss, remembrance, and memorial particularly for people living with HIV

  • Discuss sobriety and what it has offered within one’s personal journey

  • Examine the carceral system in relation to drug use and and imagine pathways to decriminalization and restorative justice

  • Emphasize the work AIDS activists have contributed to legalization of drugs

  • Showcase a nonlinear, experimental, or abstract artistic view of drug experiences

  • Use allegorical or fictional storytelling elements

Proposals need not be limited to the above topics, but will connect HIV and drug use/harm reduction in expanded and new ways. The commissioned videos as a collective will strike a balance of perspectives and artistic styles. While the nature of the subject matter might lend itself to documentary styles, we welcome artistic forms that break from linear storytelling. Most importantly, the commissioned videos will honor the humanity of drug users and emphasize first person perspectives.


We welcome proposals from both emerging and established artists in a range of forms, including documentary, narrative, and experimental. Collaborative proposals are also welcome.

Anyone may submit a proposal, regardless of geographic location or HIV status. Artists and filmmakers who are living with HIV are encouraged to apply.

Proposals should be submitted in English but may be translated with Google Translate or ChatGPT prior to submission. For the second year we are offering a Spanish language application page, but request that all materials be provided in both Spanish and English.

Commissioned videos may be in any language. Visual AIDS will work with artists to produce English subtitles. Applicants should be aware that communication with Visual AIDS during the commission process will require some use of English, though we are happy to utilize translation tools over email and Zoom.


Proposals will be reviewed by a jury of artists/community workers including Eva Dewa Masyitha, Heather Edney, charles ryan long, and Leo Herrera. Jurors will evaluate proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Thematic relevance: Does this encourage reflection or provoke conversation around the themes outlined above?

  • Strength as artwork: Can you visualize the video as proposed? Does it seem like a compelling artwork?

  • Past work: Does the work sample and proposal suggest that the artist will be able to execute their proposed project as described and on schedule?


DEADLINE EXTENDED: Sunday, July 7, 11:59PM EDT
All applicants will be notified by September 2024

Commissioned videos must be delivered by July 1, 2025. Artists will be expected to independently manage the production of their work while incorporating feedback from Visual AIDS staff throughout the process.

Videos will premiere at over 100 venues worldwide on December 1, 2025 to mark Day With(out) Art / World AIDS Day. After December 1, commissioned videos will be made available for free online viewing at video.visualaids.org.


If you have any questions about the application process, please email Blake Paskal, Programs Manager at bpaskal@visualaids.org and Kyle Croft, Executive Director at kcroft@visualaids.org. If you are an artist based in Africa or Asia, please include J Triangular (dwa@visualaids.org) on any inquiries.

About Visual AIDS Video Commissions

Visual AIDS has organized Day With(out) Art every year since 1989, coordinating art museums, galleries, and nonprofits across the world to present programs in response to the AIDS crisis.

Since 2014, Visual AIDS has commissioned short videos from artists and activists to be distributed and screened at venues worldwide on December 1, World AIDS Day. An archive of videos commissioned by Visual AIDS is available at video.visualaids.org.

Past Day With(out) Art projects have featured video works by Thomas Allen Harris, Camila Arce, Lyle Ashton Harris, Shanti Avirgan, Mykki Blanco, Jorge Bordello, Katherine Cheairs, Gevi Dimitrakopoulou, Cheryl Dunye, Lucía Egaña Rojas, Rhys Ernst, Glen Fogel, Carl George, Cristóbal Guerra, Jim Hodges, Jim Hubbard, Las Indetectables, Tom Kalin, Clifford Prince King, Kia LaBeija, Carol Leigh / Scarlot Harlot, Luna Luis Ortiz, Dolissa Medina and Ananias P. Soria, My Barbarian, aAliy A. Muhammad and Uriah Bussey, Lili Nascimento and Hiura Fernandes, Ray Navarro, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Beto Pérez, Brontez Purnell, Viva Ruiz, Mark S. King, Ira Sachs, Iman Shervington, Charan Singh, Ellen Spiro, George Stanley Nsamba, Nelson Sullivan, Steed Taylor, J Triangular and the Women's Video Support Project, Justin B. Terry-Smith, Julie Tolentino, Tourmaline, Jack Waters and Victor F.M. Torres, James Wentzy, and Derrick Woods-Morrow.

* Note: Information about the video program for Day With(out) Art 2024 has been announced here. This call for proposals is for Day With(out) Art 2025.