Among the Dawn Center's many important projects, such as "Collecting Information about Women" and "Counseling for Women's Issues," it places the "Women's Cultural Expression Project" as one of its most important. The project's aim is to change the social image of women through cultural activities. Out of approximately 330 centers dealing with women's issues in Japan, the Dawn Center was the first to develop this type of program. "The Women's Film Festival" promotes themes involving women and participation in the film industry by showing films directed by international and domestic women. "The Women's Performing Arts" annually produces original performances from a woman's perspective. Childcare is available at the theater to allow people with children to attend performances. As a result, a total of 7000 people have seen performances at "The Women's Performing Arts" since it opened in 1994.
This year, "The Women's Performing Arts" deals with the issue of child abuse. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of child abuse cases in 2003, was over 23,000 and is expected to increase. There are a numbers of contributing factors in the background of the increase in abuse cases; the trend towards the nuclear family, weakening human relationships within communities, the absence of the father in the family due to long work hours, a lack of communication between parents and their children, the idea that a mother should be solely responsible for a child's discipline until the age of three, and anxieties related to raising a child. It's clear that there is a trend towards a social structure where mothers are isolated and have nowhere to turn. In local communities, women have organized mothers' groups to provide friendship, social support, and to avoid isolation. These groups also provide contact with more experienced and knowledgeable mothers. Even though various attempts have been made to decrease child abuse, these cases are still on the rise under the present social conditions.
The Musical, Moonlight Children was performed in 1998 and 1999 and has received these reviews; "Relating to and sharing the difficulties and problems faced by mothers, I was encouraged," "Being an expecting mother, it was helpful," "I was so moved that I couldn't stop crying," and "I would recommend this musical to all parents who are at the end of their ropes." Because Moonlight Children was received so well and requests for a repeat performance were so high, the decision was made to schedule encore performances in three different locales in Osaka. The musical is not only recommended for mothers with children, but also anyone who deals with children; fathers, school teachers, caseworkers, and counselors.
Moonlight Children shows the mental anguish of abused children and the feelings of the abusing mother through a child's perspective. The musical describes mothers who abuse their children because of a lack of support and social isolation. There are several messages found in Moonlight Children. First, the emotional wounds caused by child abuse can be healed. Next, the cycle of child abuse where an abused child will grow up and become an abusive parent can be broken. Last, a message that's directed towards children, "It's not your fault!" The musical consists of forty-five performers ranging in age from 4 to 30 years old, twenty-four song and dance pieces, coming together in a wonderful performance that shows the brilliant future of the upcoming generations.
Moonlight Children has gained the support and approval from many private companies and related organizations. The Agency of Cultural Affairs has also approved it to participate in the National Arts Festival. This was due to the fact that more people have come to understand the significance of women's cultural activities and recognize the importance of developing and promoting culture and the arts in local communities. The Dawn Center will continue working towards joint participation of men and women in society by promoting cultural art activities.