PuSh Organizational Review

Latest Updates

September 30, 2020: Moving Forward With JEDI Values

In the spirit of transparency, we have created this forum to share information and updates, documenting the organizational review currently underway and the Advisory Group activity. We also hope to hear from you. Please provide feedback, ask questions, or leave comments, using the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Camyar Chaichian

Camyar Chaichian

Camyar is a multi-award winning theatre, film, television and radio practitioner. As a writer, his work ranges from the co-creation of a political satire, to dreaming up allegorical musicals. His plays have been published byTalonbooks and the Canadian Theatre Review. As a director and actor he has worked for professional companies and festivals across Canada as well as  appearing in numerous television and film productions. 

Camyar’s work as a producer and manager began with his founding of Neworld Theatre where he produced one of the PuSh Festivals first locally produced hits, Crime and Punishment. He has served on several arts boards, advisory groups and granting juries and has worked as an arts broadcaster and educator. He also took a three year hiatus from the professional arts circuit and broadened his perspective working in social services. Currently, Camyar is the Program Manager, Community Cultural Development at the City of Richmond. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of British Columbia is also completing his training as a Certified Non-Profit Lifecycles consultant.  

Jeanette Kotowich

Jeanette Kotowich is a Vancouver-based, independent, dance artist and choreographer of Cree Métis and European ancestry. Originally from Treaty 4 territory Saskatchewan, Jeanette creates work that reflects a Métis cultural narrative within the context of contemporary Indigenous dance performance and Indigenous futurism. Jeanette is currently choreographing a full-length, solo performance, Kisiskâwicanpremiering 2021. She is a co-founder of Métis dance collective Acuhko Simowuk. During these times of global pandemic, Jeanette has been creating CO-VIDS, a series of short dances for film.

Previous works include:  Eloise (2017) presented by Magnetic North, Vancouver International Dance Festival, Native Earth Performing Arts, Raven Spirit Dance, New Dance Horizons, and Bulkley Valley Concert Association. Steppin’ (2015) toured more than 35 stages across Canada, including BC, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

She works as a company dancer with Dancers of Damelahamid, Raven Spirit Dance,and V’ni Dansi and creates her own work.Jeanette co-ordinates the annual Coastal Dance Festival, is a member of the Full Circle First Nations Performing Arts Ensemble, and the Indigenous Performing Art Alliance. Jeanette has worked with artists Charles Koroneho, Carlos Rivera, Jessica McMann, Yvette Nolan, Deanna Peters, Tara Cheyenne-Friedenberg, and Su-Feh Lee. She is a Laureate of the Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Indigenous Art Awards. www.movementhealing.ca 

Photo by Daniel Paquet

Kenji Maeda

Kenji is Uchinanchu-Japanese-Canadian with experiences diverse and grounded in his passion for exploring the intersections between arts, education, health, and building community. He is currently the executive director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance; artsvest BC program manager for Business / Arts; CEO of Production Heads Network; and an arts and culture consultant.

Kenji has produced and worked on shows with local companies such as Boca del Lupo and Neworld Theatre, and was previously the executive director of DOXA Documentary Film Festival. He is a graduate of Banff Centre’s Cultural Leadership Program, and is a lecturer for Simon Fraser University’s Thriving as a Cultural Entrepreneur course. As a facilitator and consultant, his clients have included: BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture; Kelowna Kiwanis Festival; Alley Theatre; Okanagan Festival Singers; UBC School of Nursing; Vancouver Coastal Health, Neworld Theatre; and Studio 58 @ Langara College.

Nicki Kahnamoui

With over two decades of experience in strategic and operational planning and implementation, Nicki partners with clients in envisioning and realizing new projects, programs, processes, and organizations with a social impact.

She has worked in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, in various industries and different countries, including the arts. Known as a results-oriented strategic systems thinker with a strong sense of integrity and an exuberant laugh, Nicki works with mission-driven organizations with a focus on health and higher education. She has an MA in interdisciplinary studies, a Project Management Professional certificate as well as a certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement.

Whether a board orientation, strategic planning workshop, or operational roadmap, Nicki conceptualizes each initiative as part of a system and plans strategically for optimum processes, outputs, and outcomes. Committed to co-creating, designing, and facilitating participatory processes that tap into the collective intelligence of the team and community, she partners with other talented individuals and organizations, as required, to deliver the desired project.

Cory Philley

Cory is a writer, performer, director and producer. She is also the Theatre and Events Services Coordinator at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby where she is the Artistic Director for the Shadbolt’s theatre season, directs the Artist-in-Residency program and manages events and concerts in Deer Lake Park.

Cory was one of the founding members and co-artistic director of La Luna Productions (1998-2007) and has worked as a freelance theatre publicist and production manager for such Vancouver-based companies as Ruby Slippers, Neworld Theatre and Boca del Lupo.

Cory is a graduate of the Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and she has just completed her MA in Graduate Liberal Studies program at SFU. Her thesis project was her play, Hoarding Paradise, about a woman with compulsive hoarding disorder.

Kaen Valoise

Kaen is the daughter of an Anishinaabe father (Ojibwe Nation), and a French-Canadian mother. She grew up on the unceded ancestral territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, in Tiohtià:ke, which has long been a gathering place for many First Nations. In 1994, Kaen became a long-term guest on the unceded ancestral territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ Nations, where she continues to work and play, and she currently resides on the unceded ancestral territory of the qiqéyt and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm.

Kaen entered the wild and wonderful world of festivals swinging a sledgehammer for the Vancouver International Children’s Festival in 2005. Since then, she has worked in a wide range of capacities such as Ticketing & Patron Services, Front of House, Programming, Special Event Coordination, Hospitality, Transpo, Site Crew, and Finance for a wide range of festivals including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, VIFF, Talking Stick Festival, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Pemberton Music Festival, and Shambhala Music Festival.

In February 2020, Kaen decided to hang up her contractor hat to work as Operations Manager for the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Prior to this, Kaen had worked 6 PuSh festivals, volunteered several more before that, and been a besotted patron since its earliest days.

Maiko Yamamoto

Maiko Yamamoto is a Vancouver-based artist who creates new, experimental and intercultural works of performance. Most of these works are built through a practice of collaboration and include theatre projects, public art works, and performance installations. 

Since 2003, Maiko has been Co-Artistic Director of the Vancouver-based performance company, Theatre Replacement, founded with James Long. With the company she has created over 20 new works, many of which have toured to festivals and venues around the world. 


In addition, Maiko teaches performance and mentors artists for a range of different companies and organizations, both in Canada and abroad. She also occasionally works as a curator and writes about performance for a variety of publications. 

She holds a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, and a Masters of Applied Arts in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Maiko is the 2019 recipient of the Siminovitch Prize in Directing, with James Long. 

Photo by Stephen Drover



Activity & Progress

A complete list of activity and progress can be found below. Simply click on the title you would like to review to learn more.


Please find a chronologically sorted list of all meetings below. Should you have any questions or feedback, we encourage you to use the contact form at the bottom of the page to get in touch.

DATETYPE OF MEETINGATTENDEES
Sep 30, 2020Regular Board MeetingJudith Bosire – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Tevia Jeffries – VB
Mira Ore – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Tory Ross – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Peter ter Weeme – VB
Sep 29, 2020Advisory GroupCamyar Chaichian – C
Kenji Maeda – C
Nicki Kahnamoui – C
Maiko Yamamoto – C
Jeanette Kotowich – C
Jason Dubois – S
Kaen Valoise – S
Corey Philley – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Sep 22, 2020Process & Communications PlanningNicki Kahnamoui – C
Ben Lange – S
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 16, 2020Regular Board MeetingNicki Kahnamoui – C
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jennifer Johnstone – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Tevia Jeffries – VB
Tory Ross – VB
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 16, 2020Staff sessionsCamille Dumond – C
Nicki Kahnamoui – C
Anika Vervecken – S
Ben Lange – S
Jason Dubois – S
Kaen Valoise – S
Meredith Burney – S
Sep 15, 2020Advisory GroupCamyar Chaichian – C
Nicki Kahnamoui – C
Maiko Yamamoto – C
Jeanette Kotowich – C
Jason Dubois – S
Kaen Valoise – S
Corey Philley – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Sep 14, 2020Artist Update MeetingDani Fecko – G
Milton Lim – G
Natalie Gan – G
Remy Siu – G
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 14, 2020Assembly Program DiscussionDani Fecko – G
Maiko Yamamoto – C
Marcus Youssef – C
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 9, 2020Assembly Program PlanningMaiko Yamamoto – C
Marcus Youssef – C
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 2, 2020Finance Committee MeetingJason Dubois – S
Judith Bosire – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Sep 2, 2020Scheduling & administrativeNicki Kahnamoui – C
Ben Lange – S
Jason Dubois – S
Sep 1, 2020Regular Board MeetingNicki Kahnamoui – C
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jennifer Johnstone – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Sudha Krishna – VB
Tevia Jeffries – VB
Tory Ross – VB
Peter ter Weeme – VB
Jason Dubois – S
Aug 24, 2020PlanningNicki Kahnamoui – C
Jason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Aug 19, 2020Advisory GroupJason Dubois – S
Cory Philley – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Maiko Yamamoto – C
Justine Chambers – C
Kaen Valoise – S
Ben Lange – S
Aug 18, 2020PlanningNicki Kahnamoui – C
Jason Dubois – S
Mira Oreck – VB
Aug 14, 2020Festival Artist UpdateCease Wyss – G
Jason Dubois – S
Cory Philley – VB
Aug 11, 2020Working groupJason Dubois – S
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Aug 7, 2020Program/assembly activity 2021Maiko Yamamoto – G
Marcus Yousef – G
Jason Dubois – S
Jul 23, 2020Working groupJason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Jul 20, 2020Working groupJason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jul 19, 2020Staff & board consultation & planningJason Dubois – S
Kaen Valoise – S
Ben Lange – S
David Kerr – S
Anika Vervecken – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jennifer Johnstone – VB
Judith Bosire – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Tevia Jeffries – VB
Tory Ross – VB
Jul 19, 2020Meeting with concerned theatre community membersDani Fecko – G
James Long – G
Jiv Parasram – G
Maiko Yamamoto – G
Jason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jul 15, 2020Scheduled board meetingJessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jennifer Johnstone – VB
Mira Oreck – VB
Sudha Krishna – VB
Tevia Jeffries – VB
Tory Ross – VB
Peter ter Weeme – VB
Jason Dubois – S
Susanna Quail – C
Jul 14, 2020Touchstone Theatre/PuSh co-presentationClaire Love Wilson – G
Roy Surrette – G
Jason Dubois – S
Jul 14, 2020Staff meetingJason Dubois – S
Kaen Valoise – S
Ben Lange – S
David Kerr – S
Anika Vervecken – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Jul 13, 2020Meeting with Vancouver Civic TheatresJason Dubois – S
Sudha Krishna – VB
Natalie Lue – G
Peter Kendall – G
Jul 9, 2020Working groupJason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Jul 8, 2020Finance CommitteeJason Dubois – S
Judith Bosire – VB
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Glenn Mori – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Jul 6, 2020Meeting with Canada Council OfficerNancy Guertin – G
Sudha Krishna – VB
Jason Dubois – S
Jul 6, 2020Working groupJason Dubois – S
Jessica Bouchard – VB
Cory Philley – VB
Frank Durnford – VB
Janet Webber – VB
Nancy Spooner – C

VB = volunteer board member | S = staff | C = paid consultant | G = guest

Please note: This list is updated weekly.

Hi,

My name is Camyar. I’m a member of the Advisory Group that is helping PuSh navigate its way out of the storm it found itself in. Why did I agree to enter this conversation? 

I want PuSh to survive this.

I’m old enough to remember Vancouver without PuSh. I remember how excited many of us were when Norman and Katrina founded the Festival. I recall the lobbying many of us in the community engaged in to help grow the Festival. I can never forget what it felt like to see shows I or my friends were involved in play alongside international heavy-hitters. Norman continued to grow the Festival and, always being a ‘big tent’ guy, he brought the community ‘up’ with him. So, there are many performing arts makers in town who feel they are important stakeholders; that PuSh, at least on a spiritual level, belongs to them.

They want PuSh to survive this. 

There is no way that every individual who cares about this question is going to agree on how PuSh should move forward. What I can tell you is the best advice I, as part of the Advisory Group, feel I can give. 

Mistakes were made and these mistakes are being accounted for. It’s time to de-personalize and mend the systematic flaws that created the environment for a group of really smart people to do some not very smart things. For those of us who champion organizational capacity building in the non-profit sector, this is no surprise. Many companies, young or old, big or small, either ignore or don’t find time to do the hard work of constant organizational diagnosis and transformation. Sometimes the price is paid incrementally and other times a crisis hits. There is a nautical analogy of wizened old sea Captains running their ships into the ground because they become too comfortable in their experience and neglect to revisit the basics. PuSh sailed into something it could have avoided. It’s far from being alone in doing so. It should not be alone in sinking. In fact, these turning points in the life of a non-profit can make an organization even better, stronger, and more resilient. 

For those who are calling on people to resign and heads to roll, my apologies. This is not the approach I am advising. I, personally, would never sign on to a process that adds trauma to trauma. What happened to Joyce, should not have happened. What happened to Franco, should not have happened. That pattern needs to stop. People who work and volunteer in the arts, unless criminally liable, should not be subjected to that kind of treatment. We all know board structures are flawed and stressed for time in the best of situations. The fact that there are members of the PuSh board who are acknowledging their errors and staying on to steer the ship back on course has helped me transform my disappointment into respect and hope. We have opted for a restorative process, not one that penalizes. This does not absolve anyone from the mistakes they have made and that accounting is taking place within the appropriate arenas. Shame on us, Vancouver, if we let this Festival die in a sea of anger. It has provided too much joy, thoughtful provocation, engagement, beauty, recognition, and cultural sector employment to be discarded.

Moving forward with compassion does not mean turning a blind eye to injustice. That is why our committee, led by a superb facilitator, is rooted in Justice Equity De-Colonisation Inclusion (JEDI) values. We wish for PuSh to meaningfully incorporate JEDI values into the core of everything it does; even when competing for attention in an international environment that often isn’t even capable of acknowledging such a need. PuSh has the potential to not only centre itself in these values, but become an international champion of why this work is beneficial. Surviving this tumult and becoming better for it could give it the authentic street credentials to be a leader in the field. Back in the nineties, many of us in the Canadian performing arts world who engaged in these values didn’t have the language for it. We just did it because it was who we were and what we needed to do in order to survive. Deeper than that, it was because we believed, and continue to believe, that it makes the world a better place. PuSh can not only survive, it can be a strong butterfly whose flapping wings add to the multitude of artistic reverberations that are trying to make life more comprehensible, inclusive, and uplifting — and do so on an international scale.

If you have read this it’s hopefully because, like me, you want to see PuSh survive. If that is not your motive, or you can’t find a way to see it happen through a healthy lens, then I ask you to not weigh down the ship. If the survival of PuSh through a compassionate JEDI framework is what you want, welcome aboard. Let’s sail forward together with our hearts aligned, leaving the dark clouds behind us and looking forward to what awaits the PuSh Festival over that promising horizon.

And let’s say, together:

PuSh will survive.

These are challenging times. We are learning to live with COVID-19. Our skies are smoky from the climate emergency. The reckoning with structural racism continues around the world. The arts sector faces greater instability than ever before. It is within this context that we are taking on challenges within PuSh as an organization.

In June 2020, PuSh’s board and management undertook significant organizational restructuring, in response to the Society’s financial position and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Society completed its 2020 fiscal year with an accumulated deficit of $106,000. Management was also forecasting a significant (85%) reduction in box office revenues due to COVID-19, alongside reductions in other revenue streams. The restructuring in response to these realities unfortunately resulted in the elimination of the Patron Services and Associate Artistic Director positions — both held by women of colour. In the days that followed, you raised important and hard-hitting questions about these decisions and the Society’s structure.

On July 3, after several emergency meetings, the board announced that the Executive & Artistic Director was no longer employed by the PuSh Festival; this led to further community response and discussion.

We have heard your responses, questions, and comments and are committed to doing the hard work of reimagining PuSh through a social justice and equity lens.

Staff and board have met frequently over the past eleven weeks, and have included members of the broader artistic community (in the absence of internal artistic leadership) in these conversations, in an effort to determine a path forward.

As a dedicated PuSh supporter, we want to make sure you are up to date on the actions we are taking as an organization.

  1. We are undertaking a significant review of our actions as a board and staff and are doing so in consultation with community members and long-time supporters of the PuSh Festival.
  2. We have created an Advisory Group to bring an outside perspective as part of a full Organization Review of PuSh and its structures. The Advisory Group is comprised of the following people:
    • Camyar Chaichian: Arts Manager, Consultant & Independent Theatre Artist
    • Maiko Yamamoto: Co-Artistic Director, Theatre Replacement
    • Jeanette Kotowich: Independent Choreographer & Dance Artist
    • Kaen Valoise: Operations Manager, PuSh Festival
    • Cory Philley: Board Member, PuSh Festival; Arts Manager & Independent Theatre Artist

We are grateful to those community members who have stepped forward to offer their expertise in support of the Festival through this challenging time. We have also engaged experienced facilitator Nicki Kahnamoui to guide and manage the review process.

This process will be open and transparent and we will invite our audience members, colleagues, volunteers, artists, supporters, funders, and partners to be part of the process. In order to accomplish this, the process will have a home on this webpage. We will be posting regular updates and soliciting your feedback through various channels.

These are initial steps in what we hope will be a process that restores your trust in PuSh and results in a healthy, strong, inclusive, and sustainable organization with empowered artistic leadership. An organization that can continue its legacy of serving Vancouver audiences and providing a venue for innovative artistic practices, a platform for systemically underrepresented voices, and a stage for a broad diversity of artists.

On behalf of PuSh,

Jessica Bouchard
Board President

Jason Dubois
Managing Director





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