soiree ouverture
art de la table
expo photo
la rue vous offre



Annie Roy and Pierre Allard
Co-funders of ATSA

Ten years of État d’Urgence is an enormous commitment.

We started out with a baby in our arms and we now have a big ten-year-old girl who has not missed one single edition and a six-year-old who is worried there may not be a home for him when he grows up, as he cannot fathom why we let people sleep outside in winter...

When ATSA declared its first “State of Emergency,” in 1998, we “celebrated” the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, that anniversary was the inspiration behind the event. The global status of human rights is not too positive. ÉTAT DURGENCE partner Amnesty International is here to testify to this harsh reality around the world.
ATSA builds bridges between symbolic gestures—as expressed through art and ideas—and concrete gestures, those which each of us can pose to move causes forward in our daily lives. 

There is tremendous work to be done with respect to homelessness. État d’Urgence will obviously not solve the problem of poverty, but it does seek to offer a place where marginalized street people can come together and establish connections. Here, art, combined with a context of concrete, direct aid, acts to bring everyone together and provoke thought, so that this problem of exclusion ceases to spread. Since 2002, the Ville de Montréal has partnered with État d’Urgence, providing indispensable financial support and services.  

Of course, this does not prevent ATSA from exercising its critical function, denouncing the repression seen on a daily basis aimed at “cleaning up” the downtown area, and demanding an end to the harassment of people who require help rather than hindrance. For instance, the RAPSIM  (Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal) informs us that “the majority of fines handed out to homeless people are based solely on the latter’s mere presence in the public space.” The debts constitute a heavy burden for the homeless. Unable to pay their fines, they are then liable for imprisonment. Usually, people are imprisoned for a period of 12 days. Some 4,500 such cases are currently on file. Imprisonment reduces the amount of a fine by $25 per day, while costing the taxpayer $160. In all, these 4,500 cases cost taxpayers $8,640,000—enough money to pay community street workers to do something to really help the homeless, rather than handing out tickets. 

With ÉTAT D’URGENCE, ATSA creates a citizens’ event that provides both a wonderful opportunity for meeting and encounter and a media spotlight under which to voice specific demands. This year, François Avard, screenwriter for the television series Les Bougon, is the event’s spokesperson. More than just our spokesperson, however, he is our associate artist and will be placed under house arrest, a symbolic gesture in keeping with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A direct action, in support of community organizations’ demands for the judicialization of homeless persons, shall be taken on November 26 during the opening ceremony of État d’Urgence. François will share insights on his arrest through a daily journal, available for consultation on ATSA’s Web site.

État d’Urgence had not been initially planned as a recurring event. It has become so because to experience it once is to be transformed by it and to want to experience it anew! It is not an economic lever, as culture is so often portrayed within the industry, but a social lever against exclusion and repression.
Over time, a sense of belonging has taken root and all the participants, sponsors and donors who sign on each year with unwavering commitment and the ever-increasing number of volunteers confirm the event’s importance. We wish to thank them here, for they make État d’Urgence what it is:

Chefs Martin Picard and Normand Laprise and all the other restaurateurs,
for at État d’Urgence everyone eats well!

Orangetango, for handling our visuals since 2004.

Thanks too to our longtime sponsors that all-too-often go unnamed: Village des Valeurs; the pillars that are the major shelters and food banks; and front-line service providers such as Médecins du monde and numerous street workers.

Thanks to Michèle-Eugénie Roy and La Capitale Mont-Royal’s C.A.S.A. project, which raised $14,000 for État d’Urgence 2008!

Thank you as well to our partners in sustainable development, because to hold an event without taking into account the environment and fair trade makes no sense in 2008.

Several artists are staples of our programming and provide the project with a sense of continuity from year to year: Isabelle Saint-Pierre taking care of storytelling and open mic activities, François Gourd on Bingo duty and Banquet hosting along with Stéphane Crête, La Fanfare Pourpour, Les Voix Ferrées, Kumpan’ia and circus activities with Éliane Bonin at the helm, and the presence of Wapikoni Mobile and Homeless Nation to document the lives of those with no fixed address.

This year, we are proud of the marked involvement of community organizations who offer aid to those in precarity and provide them with artistic workshops throughout the year. We hope this edition will allow their art to get known and will show a more positive aspect of life on the street. 

Each year, numerous artists agree to take a risk and participate in État d’Urgence, which is not your conventional artistic venue. We thank them for their talent and generosity!

We wish to reiterate that an event such as this one cannot survive without human and financial resources and that we accept all donations! We suggest the purchase of a plate or a table at the Banquet Cochon, payable online or by cheque to ATSA. You can also register online to be a volunteer, surely one of the nicest ways to be a part of the event!

We thank everyone—citizens, artists, community organizations and the media—for contributing to making this tenth edition of État d’Urgence an outcry against human misery.