PuSh Blog

Reimagining the PuSh Youth Cohort

October 26, 2022

By Fiorella Pinillos

Last year I had the opportunity to be the program coordinator for the PuSh Youth Program. The 2022 PuSh Youth Program was a collaboration between Push Performing Arts Festival and Solid State Community Industries, as a first step in reimagining the Push Youth program.

The main shift for this iteration of the Youth Program was that Youth Academy became the Youth Cohort. This change in name was a reflection of the new direction of the program, one in which we opened it up for racialized youth from Surrey aged 16-24 who had an interest in theatre, dance and/or performance but had not yet had significant exposure to professional- level performance.

I was brought to coordinate this project with a very tight timeline, having to curate, program and produce these experiences in less than two months, so we decided to keep the program fairly similar to what it had been in previous years, a mix of artists’ talks, workshops, attending performances and sharing meals as a group.

I undertook this challenge hopeful that this could be the beginning of a journey for the PuSh Youth Program in which we bring down barriers for racialized youth to access the performing arts and with the hopes that these youth could take on leadership roles in the arts in the future. This is a vision that I am excited about, and that Gabrielle Martin, PuSh’s Director of Programming (currently on maternity leave) shares.

As I wrapped up the PuSh Cohort Sessions in February 2022, the direction to realize this vision became more clear. The next iteration of the Cohort had to have more youth involvement in the planning, curation and coordination phase, preferably youth that had attended previously. With the support of Solid State Community Industries, we put out a call for youth interested in creating a worker’s cooperative, Medley, that provides Events Production and Arts Management services. Together with two other amazing youths, four former Youth Program participants decided to join. The idea was that this group could take contracts like for example the Youth Program, and under my mentorship, we could coordinate, curate, plan and deliver the Push program.

And so, the Youth Cohort 2023 will be coordinated by Medley, as a group. The Youth Cohort Program will benefit from the lessons learnt from the experiences of past participants and the members of Medley will learn about all the behind-the-scenes of arts management. For this iteration of the Youth Cohort 2023, the plan is to keep the program fairly similar, because it will be a learning experience and after this cycle, the group can provide an exciting plan for future iterations!

This is a program open to youths of all skill and knowledge levels.
We look forward to seeing you this year!