PuSh Blog

Norman Armour Remarks – 2011 PuSh Festival Opening Gala and Vancouver 125 Launch

January 19, 2011

Photo by Kris Krug www.staticphotography.com

Hello Vancouver!

Many years ago, I was struggling to figure out how to navigate the question of public funding—who funded what and under what criteria and for what purpose. I’d asked someone at what is now called the City of Vancouver’s Office of Cultural Services what precisely distinguished their mission from other funding agencies at the provincial and federal levels. The answer I was given was pretty straightforward: “We are about place.” I was struck by the suggestiveness of that idea and have never forgotten it.

To be about PLACE…

When I learned a couple years back that 2011 would be the year of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary, I was similarly struck—struck by what such an occasion suggested. This year’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is nothing if not about PLACE. Our 125th Anniversary Series, generously supported by Vancity, creatively explores questions at the heart of our collective and individual histories, identities, urban experience, public spaces, and sense of politic.

It’s an honour to launch this year’s PuSh Festival and the 125th anniversary in partnership with the City. I would like to use this occasion to commend Mayor Gregor Robertson, the City’s Councilors, and the remarkable group of individuals at the Office of Cultural Services for their steadfast commitment to ensuring that the arts remain very much at the centre of our civic life.

Now… to carry off a program of work as ambitious as PuSh’s 125th Series is unimaginable without the involvement of both public and private sector supporters. And here, our partnership with Vancity is fitting. Vancity is an institution that is also very much about place—about the economic, social, cultural, environmental, and community wellbeing of this city, it’s residents and their entrepreneurial spirit.

I would like to acknowledge the generous support of SFU Woodward’s, CMHC Granville Island, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the BC Arts Council, the Assembly of British Columbia Arts Councils, the City of Vancouver’s Great Beginnings Program, the Vancouver Foundation, Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, and the Hamber Foundation. And a big “shout-out” to me&lewis for making our communications and promotions this year one of the most memorable ever.

On that note, I ‘d like to especially thank Stan Douglas for kindly offering a new work of his, “Fan Fight,” to be the 2011 PuSh Festival signature image. (The work depicts a fight among spectators during a hockey game at the Kerrisdale Arena in the late 1940s.)

Thank you Grolsch, Emelle’s, Wilde Horse Canyon Wines, Stanley Park Brewery, Gastown Business Improvement Society and everyone here at 560 for what promises to be a great gala evening. I hope you all have a chance to peruse the 2011 PuSh program guide; you’ll find countless organizations, foreign agencies, consulates and individuals that have helped make this year’s Festival a reality.

If Vancouver is in it’s teenage years, the PuSh Festival is barely out of pre-school. In seven brief years, we have become a much-beloved, signature event with a dedicated team of permanent staff led this year by Kent Gallie (managing director Minna Schendlinger is currently on maternity leave), a savvy group of curators that includes senior curator Sherrie Johnson, associate curator Dani Fecko, Club PuSh curators and Veda Hille and Theatre Conspiracies Tim Carlson, a bevy of contractors, technical, front of house and box office personnel, an army of volunteers, an impassioned board of directors, an exciting new Leaders Council, an engaged and ever-expanding audience, an international profile that is held in high esteem, and a 1.7 million dollar budget to boot. How does one get here?

Well, there are a myriad of reasons. One reason is the generous spirit of collaboration and partnership that characterizes our local arts scene. Another is the enthusiasm and pride that our local media shares with our efforts to brighten up the perennial mid-winter blues with groundbreaking performing arts from around the globe and just around the corner. Thank you Georgia Straight, thank you CTV, thank you Vancouver Is Awesome. And a thank you to all the individual journalists and bloggers from those and other media outlets who are joining us this year in getting the word out on the 2011 PuSh Festival.

Much has been made of the challenges facing our social profit arts sector. Those challenges are real, and at times daunting. And yet, out of such a time certain opportunities can also arise.

All of us here tonight are leaders in our own fashion— leading through the values of open and ethical collaboration, and the ambition of our vision and our goals.

Being together here tonight comes from our desire to engage with one of the most dynamic, inventive, intelligent, resourceful—and fun—contemporary arts scenes to be found anywhere in the world.

The arts in our city needs all of our leadership, involvement and support. The health of our city’s social profit arts sector requires everyone’s investment.

Individuals such as yourself, along with the organizations, institutions, corporate entities and small businesses that you represent, are the key to our future—to the future of our thriving arts community, and indeed our civic life. I encourage you to continue to connect, to contribute, and of course to be a fan!

Have a great time tonight. Have a wonderful 2011 PuSh Festival. Have a look at the city with fresh new eyes and spread it around. Have a stupendous 125th anniversary year. Light a candle, make a wish… we’re having a party!

Pictures from the gala
Visit the PuSh Festival’s website