PuSh Blog

We are grateful

April 16, 2020

The PuSh Festival team has been meeting online for a month as we continue our planning for the 2021 Festival. For the moment, we are slated to take place in some form or another from January 19 to February 7, 2021.

We check in with one another regularly about how we are personally managing during the crisis. What often emerges from these conversations is a feeling of gratitude for the many people in our communities who keep us hopeful. 

screenshot of PuSh Festival staff on a daily check-in video call
PuSh team, on a daily check-in working from home

Our April newsletter is dedicated to those people, places and ideas:

Franco – Artists and Questions

Kaen – Community and Gathering

Nicole – Land and Sustenance

Jason – Advocacy and Service

Joyce – Nurses and Caregivers

Artists and Questions

Artistic & Executive Director, Franco Boni 

Each day starts the same way.  I wake up with the sunrise, make coffee, and visit the John Hopkins University COVID map to see how Canada is doing compared to other places in the world. How many new cases, how many deaths and how many have recovered. Mostly, this fills me with anxiety; but, it’s become part of my routine. My new normal.

Recently, a colleague asked, what is the question you most want answered right now? I panicked. Most of the questions I had were unrefined and all about me. Will I get sick? When was I going to get back to work? How is my life going to change?  I quickly masked my nervousness, and responded with a question that sounded less selfish.

After I got off the phone, I couldn’t stop thinking about her question. 

Since the pandemic began, my mornings were spent looking for answers, combing through facts and analyzing data, hoping to make sense of the situation. 

Instead, what I needed to do was spend more time thinking and being open to new questions. And suddenly, there they were, popping up in my conversations with artists. 

I thought about Denise Fujiwara, who on her walk of the 88 Temples in Shikoku, carried with her the koan, “Knowing is not knowing”.  Or, Lee Su-Feh who shook my world when she described in a panel her artistic process as ‘yielding’. 

Yes – we need a vaccine – an antidote – an answer. It’s going to make us safe. 

But we also need artists, who with their questions, will help us imagine what the new normal looks and feels like. 

Community and Gathering

Kaen Valoise, Interim Operations Manager

Just about everything I do, in my life and in my work, is all about bringing people together. And that’s why I’d like to shout out a general THANK YOU to ALL the community-makers adapting to this very challenging situation. And I especially want to send a special thank you to Music on Main

One of the many great things about the PuSh Festival is working at The Post at 750, with all its magnificent tenants. I love knowing I’ll get to see, smile at, or share a quip or deep thought with a dazzlingly diverse range of amazing humans several times every day. 

We were all quick to respond to calls to work from home. And in those throes of adjusting to our new normal, I am so, so grateful to Music on Main for remembering, and hosting our monthly gathering. Every last Friday of the month we join members from DOXA, Music on Main, Touchstone Theatre, our fab Facility Manager Darren and his trusty assistant Lindsay, to just… hang out. Although we had to have our March Final Friday remotely, I was so happy to see my colleagues’ faces, and hear how they were adjusting to these strange times. 

I’m looking forward to the days when we will once again be able to gather, and hug each other, and laugh together. But for now, these little touchstones are keeping me going, and I’m so grateful for them. 

Land and Sustenance

Nicole Ebert, Development Officer

There are some things we never forget, and living in the country on 140 acres of farmland is one of those things. Every year I reminisce about that Spring: the smell of manure, sorting through envelopes of seeds saved from the last year, and that immense sense of wonder that comes from watching those tiny sprouts emerge seemingly out of thin air.

This is the time of year that farms across BC are preparing the land and caring for their seedlings. Many are now figuring out how to keep their families and staff healthy, and considering new ways to get us fresh food safely. Farmers are already at the mercy of the weather, and there are so many things they just can’t control.

With local restaurants and businesses closed, many farmers are finding themselves in places of uncertainty. Nevertheless, they are finding solutions and working tirelessly to do their work, and for that I am so deeply grateful.

I encourage folks to find ways to support local food sources and BC farmers. Register for a CSA, visit an independently owned grocery store that sources local produce, or find an online delivery service; and lets give our support to those farmers.

Advocacy and Service

Jason Dubois, Managing Director

We have colleagues in Vancouver and across the country who run service organizations for the arts sector. We rely on them for information about sectoral initiatives and regulatory changes, for advocacy with public funders, and for support and advice when we find our organizations in difficult situations.

They spend years putting in place plans to respond to almost any eventuality that the milieu might encounter – a world plague that has completely shut down live performing arts presentation was not among the contingencies for which they were preparing.

Yet, in this moment, we’ve all been relying on them to connect us, to support us and to be our advocates in an entirely unprecedented experience.  And they have risen to this challenge and shown tremendous leadership. So thank you: BC Alliance for Arts and Culture, CanDance Network, CAPACOA, PACT, CDA, and so many others.

Nurses and Caregivers

Joyce Rosario, Associate Artistic Director

Each evening at my apartment in Mount Pleasant the daily 7pm cheer for front line medical staff has become part of my soundscape. 

Along with the whirring of the Skytrain, the chirping of birds, the whooshing of wind in the trees, all these sounds have become more audible now that the world has shifted to a slower pace. I haven’t been out there cheering myself, but I’ve been listening; and each time I think of someone different in the many generations of my family who have worked, currently work, or will be working in the healthcare sector, as caregivers and nurses.

It’s the labour of those who came before me that made it possible for me to have a life that they could not. It’s the labour of those who do what they do that makes it possible for all of us to stay safe. It is dangerous work that puts them in extreme risk, and yet, it has me thinking that maybe I made the wrong career choice. I just want to feel useful right now. I know that the best I can do for the moment, for them especially, is to stay home.

I’m moved that so many people have begun to recognize and value people in a way they hadn’t before. When I hear the cheer, I hear the change that is possible when all this is over — a more open-hearted world with the care of people at its centre.