On February 27 and 28, V-Day Montreal’s bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s – “The Vagina Monologues” – played at Théâtre Outremont. An off-shoot of V-Day International, an organisation started 11 years ago by Eve Ensler, V-Day Montreal is now in its second year of working to end violence and domestic abuse within the city.
In addition to The Vagina Monologues, V-Day Montreal also organises burlesque shows, drag performances, spoken word events and art shows. They place an emphasis on promoting local artists and art within the Montreal community.
This year, the money raised from the performances went to support the Montreal Assault Prevention Centre, a non-profit organisation that offers violence prevention workshops and provides resources to the public.
While the annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” may be the most famous production supported by the organization, financial co-ordinator Emily McKee says V-Day Montreal’s role goes well beyond Ensler’s play. She sees the V-Day Montreal as a “resource-oriented organisation.”
A great platform
“We create a great platform for discussion in regard to gender and sexuality, she says, [people] see the audition posters and that sparks something in them…They want to talk about things.”
By organising events to both raise money to support organisations that work to end violence and promote communication about the reality of assault, V-Day Montreal is committed to a holistic approach to violence prevention. Their goals include promoting communication on violence prevention, gender issues, and women’s issues.
The mission statement for both V-Day International and V-Day Montreal is “Until the Violence Stops” – a message that speaks of the organisations’ commitment to ending violence in all types of relationships.
“We try to promote these as human issues by breaking down some barriers in regards to sexuality,” says McKee. She notes that the organisation is not only for women, since they have “a lot of men who work with us,” as well as trans-people. McKee also mentions that V-Day Montreal has been working to incorporate more men, queer and trans-people since its beginning.
“The Vagina Monologues” includes a monologue about a lesbian relationship. McKee says V-Day Montreal works hard to make its events open and positive to all sexualities and genders.
Support to local organisations
Last year, the money raised from events organised by V-Day Montreal went to support three local organisations: the YWCA, Shield of Athena and Stella, a Montreal community group by and for sex workers. While these organisations work mostly with the aftermath of violence, this year V-Day Montreal decided to work with a group which works proactively to prevent violence, and so chose the Montreal Assault Prevention Centre accordingly.
McKee is pleased with the community response to V-Day Montreal’s work, especially for the second year running. She notes that more networking and better marketing this year have helped attract bigger crowds, and give V-Day Montreal a greater presence in the city.
Although V-Day Montreal is non-profit organization, McKee hopes they will be able to gain status as a registered charity for next year.
V-Day International encourages their member organisations to change co-ordinators and actresses for each year, and though this year’s organisers won’t have a central role in 2010, they will be supporting incoming volunteer. McKee says that V-Day Montreal will soon be out looking for new members for next year.
“We are definitely looking to continue making these connections, to continue to include local artists and art, says McKee, but ultimately as long as there is violence and discrimination, we have a reason to keep going.”