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16th Annual PuSh Festival Successfully Closes 2020 Edition

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The 16th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, January 21- February 9, 2020, successfully closed its 2020 edition after welcoming more than 18,000 Vancouverites and visitors to stages across the Lower Mainland. The festival presented 27 works from 24 companies and nine countries, and included 20 jam-packed days of creative risk-taking and dynamic interdisciplinary collaboration. Programming centred on socially charged themes, from immigration to discrimination, from environmentalism to colonialism.

Marking the end of the festival, Executive and Artistic Director Franco Boni reflects: "PuSh Festival kickstarted the decade with reflective, hopeful shows that reminded us of the innate power of working together towards the whole - including immersive performances such as Monday Nights by 6th Man Collective, The Fever by 600 HIGHWAYMEN, and the crowd-sourced film The Democratic Set by Back to Back Theatre. We celebrated our local and global community, and engaged diverse audiences by offering more resources and initiatives in our most inclusive, accessible festival to date."

Associate Artistic Director Joyce Rosario adds: "Many of the works in the 2020 program had roots in global political shifts that took place around 2016. That peculiar moment in our shared history was a spark that ignited the creative spirit in artists across Canada and the world. From the autobiographical approaches of Veda Hille and Quelemia Sparrow to the ambitious new dance work FRONTERA - featuring Dana Gingras' Animals of Distinction with Fly Pan Am and United Visual Artists - the festival was a poignant reminder that human connection is truly the antidote to apathy and despair."

The 2020 festival was a great success, forging partnerships with recent additions to Vancouver's cultural landscape such as Central Studios, home to several Club PuSh shows this year. Politics were foregrounded in works that looked at border wars and repressive regimes, including Electric Company Theatre's Anywhere But Here, City Opera's BERLIN: The Last Cabaret, and Tania El Khoury's Gardens Speak. Audiences heard tales of love and hardship in 2b theatre's Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story and Why Not Theatre's What You Won't Do For Love, featuring David Suzuki and Tara Cullis. Uncensored truths were explored in the North American premiere of Free Admission by Ursula Martinez and d'bi young anitafrika's She, Mami Wata & The Pussy WitchHunt.

In addition, 148 delegates from across Canada and beyond participated in the annual PuSh Industry Series - attending performances, receiving creative pitches on new shows, and discussing sector challenges in roundtables.

2020 PuSh Festival Overview

  • 18,000+ patrons attended, including more than 440 PuSh Passholders who came out to the festival more than 2,180 times
  • 150+ performances and events were held at 24 venues in and around Vancouver and New Westminster over 20 days
  • 61 sold-out performances and events
  • 34 performances featured a mix of ASL interpretation, captions, VocalEye descriptions, relaxed settings, and low-vision or hard-of-hearing friendly work
  • 400+ people were served by Accessible PuSh initiatives, which included free or discounted tickets for community organizations representing underserved communities
  • 105 volunteers contributed almost 1,400 hours of their energy, skill, and expertise
  • 148 arts industry professionals representing 14 countries participated in business exchange, networking, and development at the PuSh Industry Series
  • $33,500 contributed by PuSh Patrons Circle donors and the PuSh Board of Directors over the festival campaign


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