About & History

The PuSh Festival works on the unceded and traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ first nations, primarily in the territory that was the seasonal and ancestral village of K’emk’emeláy. We want to express our deep gratitude for those who have cared for this land from time immemorial. As settlers on this territory we are striving to build reciprocal relationships with our Host Nations and the Indigenous Urban Communities of artists and audiences on this territory and beyond. 

As a part of our ongoing efforts to develop systems of working that are relational, sustainable and transparent, we are in the process of revising our mission, vision and values. 

We remain committed to presenting works for the stage that are driven by necessity. Works that help us face challenging truths with empathy and embodiment, and works that facilitate essential conversations. We hold as a core value the importance of exchange among local, national and international artists and continue to foster relationships between these artists and our community. 

The Festival, held in January and February each year in the lower mainland remains a place for audiences to encounter work that is innovative and surprising, for artists to showcase for an international audience and for new work to emerge. 


In 2003, co-founders Norman Armour and Katrina Dunn envisioned a vibrant, mid-winter 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 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 2018, Norman Armour stepped down as Artistic and Executive Director. Joyce Rosario – whose role as the Associate Artistic Director from 2012 was pivotal in the growth and vision of PuSh – stepped in as the Interim Artistic Director until a new Artistic Director was announced in 2020. 

In 2021, after a period of change and reflection that saw a near complete changeover of staff and board, and in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, PuSh restructured the organization around a Collaborative Leadership team and hired Gabrielle Martin as the Director of Programming, with Margo Kane serving as the Director of Indigenous Initiatives. Keltie Forsyth joined the team as Director of Operations in 2022.

Our work on organizational transformation continues as we explore what PuSh can be moving into the next phase of its evolution.

Between the Lines

70 everyday Vancouverites join the biggest dance project of their lives at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Experience the joy of their journey as they rehearse for a remarkable, massive public dance, Le Grand Continental®, created by Sylvain Émard Danse.

Funded by Telus Optic, directed and edited by Ian Barbour and Darren Heroux

Being Read

The premise is simple yet profound: borrow a human book, discover a life. Human Library is a global phenomenon engaging people with the real-life stories told by fellow human beings. This is the story of one human book…

Funded by Telus Optic, directed and edited by Ian Barbour and Darren Heroux

Kiss the Rabbit: 10 Years of the PuSh Festival

Come with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival on a magical journey through Vancouver’s nighttime streets to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The 2014 Festival opened with the gala performance of Super Night Shot by Gob Squad Arts Collective. Look back to this daring performance and PuSh’s decade of presenting theatre, dance and music on Vancouver stages.

Funded by Telus Optic, directed and edited by Ian Barbour and Darren Heroux


It’s been a long road for Antonette Rea, a trans* woman who journeyed from suburban dad to drug-addicted sex worker. Now she bares her soul through poetry to be heard by the world. When she speaks you’ll be riveted.

Funded by Telus Optic, directed and edited by Ian Barbour and Darren Heroux

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 Industry Series: a performing arts industry initiative that offers global networking opportunities through its specialized programming for the Canadian performing arts.