Norman Armour will step down as artistic and executive director of Vancouver's PuSh Festival

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      Come January of next year, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival will present its usual ground-breaking array of dance, theatre, music, and interdisciplinary performance, all assembled under the guidance of long-time artistic and executive director Norman Armour.

      Armour, however, will be watching from the wings.

      In an early morning announcement, PuSh’s cofounder revealed that he would be stepping down effective April 27, before becoming a consultant for the Australia Council for the Arts in May of this year.

      “I am immensely proud of the countless successes, rewarding partnerships and groundbreaking milestones the organization has afforded me,” Armour said in a media release. “And I look forward—with great anticipation—to where new leadership will take PuSh in 2019 and beyond.”

      In his new role, the producer will remain in Vancouver, where he’ll be tasked with developing and implementing the ACA’s North American outreach strategy—a job that will no doubt be aided by the many contacts and friendships Armour made during his 14-year tenure with PuSh.

      In the interim, PuSh will be guided by interim executive director Roxanne Duncan and interim artistic director Joyce Rosario. The PuSh board is expected to announce initiate a search for Armour’s full-time replacement later this year.

      Armour is a cofounder of PuSh, as well as a producer, director, and actor in his own right and the cofounder of Rumble Theatre.

      PuSh grew from a small start in 2003 to become one of Canada's most daring and imaginative performing arts festivals. The name refers to its eagerness to push beyond the norms of conventional dance, theatre, music, multimedia, and hybrid shows.

      "In the early beginnings of PuSh, cofounder Katrina Dunn and I wanted to effect change with the creation of a vibrant festival for the performing arts," Armour said. "We envisioned Vancouver artists forging new relationships and new business opportunities with the rest of Canada and beyond, and saw the potential benefits of a dynamic interplay between seemingly disparate disciplines, between arts patrons, and between the city's venues and creative communities."

      Craigslist Cantata featured (left to right) Bree Greig, Veda Hille, J. Cameron Barnett, Selina Martin, Barry Mirochnick, and Dmitry Chepovetsky.
      David Cooper

      Along the way, there have been countless highlights.

      It was a partner in the Cultural Olympiad in 2010, and two years later it partnered with the Arts Club Theatre on the premiere Veda Hille and Bill Richardson's critically acclaimed Do You Want What I Have Got?Craigslist Cantata.

      It also launched Club PuSh in 2009, which has evolved to become a "festival within a festival".

      Niall McNeil (above) played King Arthur in Neworld Theatre's audacious reinterpretation of a legendary tale.
      Tristan Casey

      This year at PuSh, Neworld Theatre presented the trailblazing King Arthur's Night, which featured an actor with Down syndrome, Niall McNeil, in the title role. 

      The festival also showcased The Eternal Tides, a slow moving performance that rewrote the structures of dance and which was conceived by legendary Taiwanese choreographer Lin Lee-Chen.

      "Norman has been an outstanding artistic and executive director, who has led with unwavering devotion, commitment, and bold creativity, forever changing the face of Vancouver's art scene," PuSh board of directors president Mira Oreck said in the news release. "Norman is leaving the organization in the strongest place it has ever been, positioning us extremely well as we plan for the next exciting stage of PuSh."