About & History
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of Vancouver’s signature events. Produced each January, the Festival expands the horizons of Vancouver artists and audiences with work that is visionary, genre-bending, multi-disciplined, startling and original.
The Festival showcases acclaimed international, Canadian and local artists and mixes them together with an alchemy that inspires audiences, rejuvenates artists, stimulates the industry and forges productive relationships around the globe. More than just shows, the Festival is a broker of international partnerships, a meeting place for creative minds, a showcase of Canada’s best and an incubator of brilliant new work.
The PuSh Festival acknowledges that it operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. We are grateful to be gathered here and recognize our privileged place on these lands.
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival engages and enriches audiences with adventurous contemporary works in a spirit of innovation and dialogue.
PuSh leads as a festival of national importance—artistically respected, greatly anticipated, and highly valued as a catalyst for cultural and community development.
What we do
- Present the very best in contemporary performance,
- Develop new, groundbreaking and extraordinary works through innovative partnerships and collaborations,
- Tap into new and existing audiences for the performing arts,
- Stimulate audience and performing arts industry engagement through interactive forums, outreach and ancillary activities that generate dialogue and exchange,
- Showcase the innovations of leading Canadian artists and their work,
- Encourage cultural export by linking Vancouver with a national and international network of presenters
What we value
- Transformative experiences
- Respectful collaboration and dialogue
- Relevant and engaged practices
- Diversity in arts and peoples
In 2003, co-founders Norman Armour and Katrina Dunn envisioned a vibrant, mid-winter place event series where Vancouver artists could forge relationships and opportunities with the rest of Canada and beyond. They saw the potential benefits of a dynamic interplay between seemingly disparate disciplines, between arts patrons, and between the city’s venues and creative communities.
The Festival has since grown exponentially and now enjoys a highly regarded Canadian and international profile with approximately 18K+ annual attendees. An important animator of new creation, the Festival commissions groundbreaking work while stimulating dialogue and exchange.
2008 marked the first year of Club PuSh, a new programming stream extending the Festival’s offerings late into the night in venues across the Lower Mainland.
In 2010, PuSh was a major partner in the Cultural Olympiad. Together with the City of Vancouver, PuSh launched the official celebrations of the city’s 125th anniversary in 2011 with an outdoor event in Gastown that drew over 7,000 people.
The years following, the PuSh Industry & Assembly saw considerable growth establishing the Festival as a staple in calendars for Canadian and international presenters and artistic directors.
In April 2018, Norman Armour departed the organization.
In January 2019, PuSh marked its 15th anniversary with more than 150 performances and events, including 41 sold-out shows, and artists from 13 countries.
Curatorial Vision & Community Role
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is unique among the region’s festivals. Curated, multidisciplinary, international in scope—the Festival stands alone in its commitment to bring together critically acclaimed work from different disciplines under the umbrella of a single festival. The PuSh Festival highlights new ways of storytelling, new forms of staging, new approaches to combining disciplines, and new views on contemporary themes and issues.
PuSh envisions its leadership role as a catalyst and animator. We foster connections between existing audiences and artists, while providing an occasion for dialogue and exchange between like-minded communities. Premieres by local artists are presented alongside shows that have garnered national and international acclaim. Together, audiences are afforded an inspiring view of trend-setting innovations from across Canada and around the world.
Professional development opportunities at the Festival take many forms and forums. A highlight is the PuSh Assembly: a performing arts industry initiative that offers global networking opportunities through its specialized programming for the Canadian performing arts.