The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival launches Meet Your New Neighbour, a program designed to offer performing arts experiences to new Canadians and refugees.
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival launches Meet Your New Neighbour, a program designed to offer performing arts experiences to new Canadians and refugees.

One can only imagine what it is like to be uprooted from your home country and arrive in a foreign land. Utmost on the minds of refugees and other new Canadians are priorities like finding a home, securing a job, registering for school; all of the basic necessities of life that we all take for granted. But what of the intangibles? That feeling of belonging and fitting in?

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival has one answer, with Meet Your New Neighbour (MYNN), a new program designed to offer performing arts experiences to new Canadians and refugees. The initiative will help eliminate financial, cultural and social barriers to the performing arts, thanks to a grant from the Van Tel/Safeway Credit Union Legacy Fund

“The MYNN program pairs new Canadians and refugees with local volunteers and Festival patrons to attend various 2016 PuSh Festival performances together,” say Festival organizers.” In addition to matching new Canadians with a local volunteer host, they’re provided complimentary tickets and transportation subsidies. The 2016 pilot will wrap after the Festival with a celebratory gathering of participants, hosts and staff.”

Recognizing the transformative power of live performing arts, the MYNN program aims to create personal and cultural connections between new Canadians, volunteer hosts, and local artists to help with their integration into Canadian society. It also helps address the social isolation that can be experienced by vulnerable or marginalized groups.

“It fosters understanding and dialogue between communities, while offering an introduction to Vancouver’s lively performing arts offerings and a great night out with new friends,” say organizers.

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents ground-breaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music and multimedia by acclaimed local, national and international artists. The 2016 PuSh Festival takes place January 19 to February 7 at venues throughout Vancouver.

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is currently recruiting volunteer hosts to accompany refugees and new Canadians to the 2016 Festival. The application deadline is January 10, 2016. Visit http://pushfestival.ca for more information.