Vancouver’s PuSh Festival Turns 10

Norman Armour, PuSh Festival | BCBusiness
Norman Armour, artistic and executive director of the PuSh Festival, says strong relationships with many business sponsors have helped it reach its 10-year milestone.

The performing arts festival reaches a milestone with strong support from local businesses

Vancouver’s PuSh Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with a fundraising launch party at The Imperial on November 6. Over the last decade, the event has carved its own unique niche in Vancouver’s cultural calendar.
“We’re just far enough after Christmas and New Year’s that people want to get out and do something new,” says artistic and executive director Norman Armour.
For 20 days starting in mid-January, PuSh will present 150 live events featuring performers from seven countries at 15 venues across the city.
The non-profit festival has grown thanks to adventurous contemporary performances and canny relationships with sponsors, partners and funders. In 2013, corporate sponsorship and donations covered $405,000 of PuSh’s $1.79-million budget. Proud of a high sponsor retention rate, Armour says 2014 will be even better. “As we build our expertise, capacity, network, knowledge and, for that matter, our product, our base is growing each and every year.”
This year, PuSh is receiving new support from Vancity, the Vancouver Economic Commission and the Vancouver Hotel Destination Association, a group of more than 30 downtown hotels with a fund that supports cultural tourism. A new three-year extension has also been signed with ticketing agent Eventbrite.
On October 30, Armour was awarded Vancouver’s Civic Merit Award to recognize his contribution to the city. In his view, the key to successful collaboration between business and the arts is to keep everyone’s objectives in clear view.
“It’s no different from how we approach our cultural partners—it’s all in the fit. It’s about really appreciating what somebody else is wishing to achieve and how the PuSh Festival can help achieve that. You want your strategic partners to step back at the end of the day and say ‘This was right for us. I’m glad we did it.’”
Armour sees tremendous benefits for businesses that come on board. “If you’re a corporate entity developing its brand you are, in some ways, who you keep company with. Arts and culture play a big role in peoples’ lives and are seen to be part of a healthy society. I think it’s beholden to corporations to invest in that, to support it, to be part of a vital contemporary region.”
The PuSh Festival will kick off with a 10th Anniversary Gala Performance of “Super Night Shot” at the Vancouver Playhouse on January 14, 2014.