It’s a Wrap on the 15th Anniversary Edition of PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
The 15th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival took place January 17–February 3, 2019 across the Lower Mainland. The anniversary edition successfully closed a showcase of visionary collaboration and risk-taking by artists from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Guatemala, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More than 15,500 Vancouverites and visitors were in attendance this year at more than 150 performances and events over the festival’s 18 days. This year, PuSh Festival expanded to several new and intimate venues throughout the Lower Mainland, further nurturing creative relationships and animating smaller spaces.
Marking the end of the three-week festival, Interim Executive Director Roxanne Duncan reflects: “This was a pivotal year for PuSh Festival in many ways, but with 15 years behind us we are as committed as ever to strengthening our ties with local artists and organizations while continuing to foster significant international relationships. Club PuSh found new life as a platform for experimental work that transcends a physical space, taking place at venues throughout the city. Local artists Kimmortal and Immigrant Lessons opened the festival with a free Club PuSh event at The Beaumont that welcomed more than 500 people. The 15th anniversary program reaffirmed PuSh Festival’s commitment to bridging Vancouver and international performance communities, cementing our position as one of the world’s must-see performing arts events.”
Interim Artistic Director Joyce Rosario adds: “In a moment of polarizing perspectives driven by the politics of division, our program offered an antidote — a reminder of the importance of collaboration, unity, and intersectionality. Over the past three weeks, we saw a coming together of creative minds that resulted in a festival that moved us and sparked meaningful dialogues. We are left contemplating the impactful messages of critical pieces like salt., Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools, This is the Point, and Copper Promises – Hinemihi Haka, among many others.”
The 2019 festival was a great success, with several performance highlights creating memorable experiences for audiences and critics alike. The rousing heavy metal-inflected dance show Attractor, by Dancenorth Australia, set the tone for this year’s festival — powerful and synergistic. PuSh also presented a suite of three sound-based works from Japan: 100 Keyboards, Ringo, and Marginal Consort. Radically inclusive shows dominated the programming, such as the production of Prince Hamlet performed bilingually in American Sign Language and spoken English, and the multimedia performance of Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools by Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry. Other highlights included the transformative chamber opera Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance composed by Graham Reynolds and the deeply affecting performance of salt. by Selina Thompson.
In addition, 175 delegates from across Canada and beyond participated in the annual PuSh Assembly’s Industry Series — attending performances, receiving creative pitches on new shows, and discussing sector challenges in roundtables.
2019 PuSh Festival Overview
- 150+ performances and events at 22 venues in and around Vancouver over 18 days
- More than 15,500 patrons attended over three weeks, including more than 400 PuSh Passholders who came out to the festival more than 1,400 times
- 41 sold-out performances and events
- 24 companies representing 13 countries performed in 26 shows
- $38,088 contributed by PuSh Patrons Circle donors and the PuSh Board of Directors over the festival matching campaign
- 111 volunteers contributed 1,725 hours of their energy, skill and expertise
- 682 tickets were purchased through the 15th anniversary 15x15x15 promotion
- 150+ youth, aged 16 to 24, participated in the Youth Program, which included $5 Youth tickets, professional work experience, networking, and learning opportunities in the performing arts industry
- 175 arts industry professionals representing nine countries participated in business exchange, networking, and professional development at the PuSh Assembly
- 440+ people were served by Accessible PuSh initiatives, which included free or discounted tickets for community organizations serving underserved communities
About the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (pushfestival.ca)
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is Vancouver’s signature, mid-winter cultural event, taking place over three weeks each January in theatres and venues across the city. The PuSh Festival presents ground-breaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by acclaimed local, national, and international artists.
The 16th edition the PuSh Festival will take place January 21–February 9, 2020. Full programming will be announced in November 2019.