PuSh Blog

Reflections on the Great Beginnings Initiative

February 02, 2011

As Project Coordinator of Great Beginnings, this has been a tremendous festival. If at first the name “Great Beginnings” doesn’t muster up much more than Dickensian images, you’re thinking of “Great
Expectations”… Similar, but also quite different. A joint initiative of the city and province, Great Beginnings is a funding program about creating opportunities on the Downtown East Side.

What does that mean in the context of the Festival?
We have had twenty one DTES residents interns working on the various shows happening down at the Woodward’s building and in Gastown at La Marea. And, yes, this is creating job opportunities, but it is also allowing these residents to flex their artistic muscles – many of them are artists in their own right (painters, poets, actors, storytellers). More than anything, it’s engaging the greater community in the shows – having peers invite them to view shows has become the perfect invitation to engage them in the Festival as a whole. The Iqaluit installation in the Woodward’s Atrium has become a destination in the community – at first because the basketball nets were gone and people were wondering what the bizarre metal cage was, but once they’d experienced the show, people became quite moved. Some of them are originally from the north and have been living on the DTES for much of their lives – it has been a long time since they’ve seen images of the north. Others are shocked by the desolation of the north. Or provoked by the images they see. The five interns we have working on this show could not be more suitable to the public they’re interacting with in this high-traffic space: they know everyone insight, they welcome everyone in sight, and they show tremendous compassion that extends well beyond their job requirements.

Come down to the Atrium and meet them yourselves –guaranteed you will get the warmest smile you’ve seen this festival.
Read: Great Beginnings Initiative & the PuSh Festival
Visit: Great Beginnings Webpage
More info on Iqaluit


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