A Statement from PuSh and the PuSh Rally Team
It is with regret and gratitude that we share the statement below from our colleagues and friends Maiko Yamamoto, Marcus Youssef, and Dani Fecko who have been leading the 2021 PuSh Rally.
Marcus and Maiko, Rally Curators here, with Dani, Rally Producer. We got officially involved in the 2021 Festival as contractors in September, after a bunch of very difficult staff changes occurred internally at PuSh over the spring and summer, and a number of artists pulled out of the Festival as a result. We felt the Festival had made serious errors, and was in jeopardy. As long-time festival artists and collaborators, we wanted to help. The Rally was our attempt to do so – to have conversations with artists we admire from both here and elsewhere about conflict, art-making and difference in this time, when these are being negotiated and challenged in many different places.
Since the release of the Rally program, however, we have received a lot of feedback from people we respect about what we planned and how we framed it. This included artists withdrawing from the Rally program. While we understand this information might be out of context for those who are not local arts workers, we have come to believe that what we programmed is actually hindering attempts to resolve conflict.
While we were not involved in the big decisions that caused the ruptures at PuSh last year, we fully acknowledge that we also made mistakes, which include referring to those ruptures directly in our promotional materials and failing to communicate openly about our plans. We were thinking of the Rally as bigger-picture and outward-looking and hoped it would be a platform to foster conversation, but we failed to take into account how this would affect people we care about in our local artistic community.
We have also come to believe that the perspective we offered isn’t what’s needed right now. Because of this, we are stepping down from our contracts as Rally Curators and Producer, effective immediately. At our request, PuSh has agreed not to move forward with the programming we have curated. We do this with great respect for our local community of arts workers and apologize to those our actions have hurt. We thank those who reached out to share their experiences and perspectives. We are grateful to the artists who agreed to participate in the Rally (who are still being compensated) and sincerely thank the staff and board at PuSh for their support.
We love this community. And we love PuSh. We wish nothing but good things for the future and remain committed to both.
Maiko, Marcus, and Dani
We respect the wishes of the Rally team and stand behind their decision not to proceed with the program. We now understand that some of the previously announced programming has negatively impacted and hurt members of our community, and for this, we are deeply sorry. We also acknowledge the significant amount of work that PuSh as an organization still needs to do in an attempt to heal and rebuild its relationships within the arts community.
Updated information is now available on the PuSh website (pushfestival.ca). Please note, the PLEO event, Board Table Disruption, will still move forward in collaboration with PuSh.
We are grateful to Maiko, Marcus, and Dani for their commitment to PuSh. Their work on the Rally has supported important conversations within PuSh, which we are committed to continuing in the future as part of the PuSh Organizational Review process.
With heartfelt appreciation and thanks,
The PuSh Team