PuSh Blog

Welcome to PuSh 2020 from Franco Boni

November 27, 2019

Portrait of Franco Boni

By the time you read this note, I will have rewritten it in my head 50 times over. Change a word here, take that sentence out completely—my mind races as I come up with hundreds of new ways to communicate how grateful I am to call Vancouver my new home. How grateful I am to be in a City with such incredible art and artists. How grateful I am that you have decided to spend the day or evening at a PuSh Festival performance.

Welcome to the 16th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival—my first as Artistic and Executive Director—but not my first as an audience member. I initially encountered the Festival in 2005, where I experienced the work of Theatre Replacement (The Empty Orchestra) and Carmen Aguirre (The Trigger) and NeWorld Theatre (Crime and Punishment), and it was a revelation. The programmers and artists gathered at the Industry Series that year have become important lifelong collaborators. I have this vivid memory of sitting in a car on Main Street with my dear friend Sarah Stanley on the final night of the Festival. We were reflecting on the past few days of talks, workshops, performances and agreed that the PuSh Festival was going to have a significant impact on our national performing arts community.

My relationship with Norman Armour, founding Artistic & Executive Director of the PuSh Festival dates back to his time at Rumble Productions.

In 2007, he convened a gathering of like-minded presenters in Montreal to discuss how we could better support the development and touring of new Canadian work. Soon after, we co-launched a program to support the work of emerging artists Anita Rochon & Emelia Symington Fedy (Chop Theatre) and Ravi Jain (Why Not Theatre).

For 16 years, I was The Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre in Toronto, where I established programs that placed artists and ideas at the forefront, and nurtured relationships that urged artists, of all disciplines, to interrogate long-held beliefs in their practice. I was inspired by Vancouver artists who formed collectives, created shared artistic leadership models and collaborated in ways I hadn’t seen before in Toronto. The PuSh Festival emerged out of this time and framework, and remains deeply connected to this spirit of independence, community activism and kindness.

Five months ago, I uprooted my life in Toronto to be here, and not surprisingly, I have felt moments of loneliness. But as I write this note, I recognize that the City of Vancouver is an old friend I love and admire. A friend that I have been in relationship with for nearly 15 years.

A friend I discovered through my association with the artists and audiences of The PuSh Festival.