Vancouver PuSh Festival board apologizes for controversial layoffs over a year ago

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The board of directors of Vancouver’s largest performing arts festival, the Push International Performing Arts Festival, has apologized to two former employees for the way they handled their layoffs last summer.

Last summer, the festival announced “an organizational restructuring”, due to the impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

However, she chose to remove the post of her full-time Associate Artistic Director, a position held by Joyce Rosario, a woman of color. Another post, held by Janelle Wong-Moon, also a woman of color, has been eliminated.

The layoffs have been heavily criticized, especially as the layoffs came at a time of racial reckoning for many industries.

On Wednesday, the board issued a statement apologizing for its actions.

“We recognize the damage done to the careers, financial stability, reputation and well-being of Joyce and Janelle. used in the months that followed without their consent was disrespectful ”, we can read in part.

Board member Camyar Chai said the time it took to apologize – almost a year and a half – was needed.

“When we rush these things, they don’t turn out the way we hope,” Chai told CBC’s. On the coast, adding that the group is still repairing the fallout from last year.

“Bad systems or outdated systems make good people do regrettable things. It’s not unique to PuSh. I think it’s something that many organizations – not just arts and culture – but at all levels matter and we have decided to do it in a way that takes time and patience. “

Gabrielle Martin, the festival’s programming director, said there had been other changes as well.

She said part of the hierarchical structure that was in place previously has been removed and the leadership is more representative of the diverse communities the festival serves.

There are also new guidelines for prioritizing indigenous and southern voices – a term used to describe politically or marginalized and often low-income countries outside of Europe and North America.

“[The PuSh Festival] has been invaluable to Vancouver’s artistic and cultural ecology and there is much to honor and continue, ”she said.

On the coast9:09PuSh Festival board apologizes for layoffs

Camyar Chai and Gabrielle Martin say today’s board apologies to Janelle Wong-Moon and Joyce Rosario for being fired by PuSH were badly needed as the situation has drawn attention to systemic racism in the scenic arts. 9:09

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