We are a community of people brought together by the story of harm reduction, which is really a story of dignity and hope for people who use drugs and their allies. We are artists, activists, colleagues, researchers, friends, and neighbours. Contact us at illicitstories@gmail.com.

Join us on Friday, August 11 at the Roundhouse Community Centre as we share the results of our research in a workshop performance and conversation!

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Illicit is a community-engaged arts-based research project with members, leaders, and staff of the PHS Community Services Society’s Drug User’s Resource Centre, or DURC. DURC is a cutting-edge, peer-run centre in Vancouver dedicated to the rights of people who use illicit drugs and alcohol. It is a vibrant hub of arts, cultural, and user-specific programming built by and for the people in this community. To learn more about DURC’s services, visit durc.rocks.

With Illicit, we aim to illuminate our stories and amplify our voices as people who have made DURC what it is: a place of meaning, belonging, and hope. Our intent is to imaginatively explore harm reduction, drug policy, and the realities of life on the margins through art forms such as writing, movement, music, theatre, and visual art. Our goal is to create a compelling work of performance art that will affirm our community’s vision while viscerally and emotionally drawing the wider public into our world.

The Research Process:

The Illicit research process centres around a core group of 12 co-researchers who have helped to build the Drug Users Resource Centre as a public health intervention in a community affected by marginalization and poverty. This group of people have acted as board members, staff and program facilitators at DURC. They have taken an active leadership role in advancing the human rights agenda of harm reduction. As former and active drug users, sex workers, street survivors, and political actors, as well as artists in their own right, their expertise guides the development of our performance themes and goals.

The research process also includes a broad community invitation to share stories and build artistic skills. Our partner, the Arts in Action group at DURC, has evolved into a puppet troupe called Eastside Puppeteers that is exploring our community’s current overdose crisis through shadow puppetry and marionettes.

The Performance:

Arts in Action’s Eastside Puppeteers, led by David Mendes, presented a site-specific alleyway performance with shadow puppetry and marionettes at the Homeground Festival on February 9, 2017.

Illicit will premiere the results of our research in a workshop performance on Friday, August 11, 2017 as part of the first Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival, at the Roundhouse Community Centre. The presentation begins at 7pm and is free or by donation. Our intent is to share this work with audiences including healthcare workers, policy makers, members of law enforcement, members of the wider public of Vancouver, and of course, our community in the Downtown Eastside.

Produced by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival is the first of its kind in Canada and features the work of more than 70 self-identified outsider artists. www.cacv.ca