PuSh festival -A medley of youth

Under the mentorship of Fiorella Pinillos, the PuSh Youth Cohort fosters curiosity in the performing arts and provides an opportunity for young artists to learn, grow and thrive.

In a collaboration between the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Solid State Community Industries, the 2023 PuSh Youth program offers 10 free sessions for artists aged 16-24 who have not yet had significant exposure to professional-level performance. They especially look to shine a spotlight on youth in racial and ethnic minorities, not only because it is one of their key objectives and the leaders are a part of said minorities as well.

This year, the program is run by Medley, a group of six racialized youth: Fegor Obuwoma, Shirin Moradi Gálvez, Nandini Bhatia, Vivan Prasad, Victor Aspiras and Arisha Baba. These youth will be mentored by Pinillos. Meetings will be held in Solid State in Surrey and are described closely to a book club but for the performing arts.

“It’s intended for youth who are interested in experiencing the performing arts from all angles and learning more about creation and production,” Medley says.

Photo courtesy of the PuSh Youth Cohort

Connection, unity beauty

This program is a unique opportunity for youth in Vancouver that supports the BiPOC community. It features workshops with successful members of the performing arts community, studio visits with art professionals, discussions with other program members and guest artists and more. Members have been meeting on a weekly basis since last December and will continue up until and during the PuSh Festival in January.

The program will run differently this year which has garnered much enthusiasm and support as the majority of the Medley members were a part of last year’s PuSh Youth Cohort. Nonetheless, the team’s objective remains unchanged. Medley stresses the importance of connection, unity and the beauty you can find in a community that cares deeply for one another.

“PuSh Youth Cohort is creating opportunities, connections and relationships, and this is something special,” Medley says.

A medley of voices

Medley is a versatile company managed by six racialized youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Fegor Obuwoma, Shirin Moradi Gálvez, Nandini Bhatia, Vivan Prasad, Victor Aspiras and Arisha Babar are the team running the PuSh Youth Cohort this year. The program will run differently this year which has garnered much enthusiasm and support as four of the Medley members were a part of last year’s PuSh Youth Cohort.

Much like PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Solid State Community Industries aims to uplift racial minorities in the Greater Vancouver art scene. With currently 18 cohorts running and over 120 participants, the company is dedicated to achieving their goal of an altruistic network focused around introducing youth to exciting opportunities and aiding in the creation of life-long attachments and belonging.

The two groups’ interests align quite cohesively, and both are invested in recreating the wonderful experiences they have had in previous years and bringing them to new members in the Greater Vancouver Community.

Meet the team

Pinillos, coordinator and mentor of the program, immigrated to Vancouver from Peru to complete her Master’s Degree of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University. Her own lived experience as an immigrant and passion for art enabled her to connect various communities and start cooperatives with companies such as Solid State Community Industries, City in Colour and La Libelula.

Obuwoma, a Nigerian filmmaker, storyteller and artist, aims to explore her cultural and spiritual experience of being Nigerian through her work. Some of her interests fall into areas such as – but not limited to – art institutions as a site for decolonial and experimental practice, African futurism and the link between identity and spirit.

Shirin Moradi Gálvez, a member of Medley Events and Art Management, is a previous member of the PuSh Youth Cohort who has been immersed in the arts for many years through reading, music, writing and study. She loves the PuSh program for providing her with opportunities to learn about art forms and other artists.

Nandini Bhatia is the second previous member of the PuSh Youth Cohort, who is thankful towards the program for being a safe environment in which she can experience different types of art and in turn gain a deeper understanding of art in general.

Vivan Prasad, a member of this year’s program, most enjoys being able to balance his love for the arts and his technology career, something he didn’t think possible until recently. It’s thanks to this program he discovered the unexpected fluidity between art and science.

Lastly, there’s Victor Aspiras, who has been involved in the PuSh community before this year. His passions include photography, performance art and fashion, who appreciates the accessibility to working with other artists and admiring various shows.

Looking ahead

All can expect this amazing program to continue running for many years in the future, as their goal to engage, connect and uplift marginalized communities through art is not easily fulfilled. The PuSh Youth Cohort will undoubtedly collaborate with other organizations with similar visions, to continue to leave an impressionable mark in the arts community.

All in all, the PuSh Youth Cohort and Medley are hopeful, optimistic and excited for what the future holds, with their team goal always in mind.

“Medley’s goal is to act like a conduit between art and business. Bringing more opportunities to BiPOC youth and hosting events where meaningful connections are made,” they say.

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