Aiming to provide a forum where arts-positive unionists and union-positive artists can create and dialogue, Toronto’s Mayworks Festival has held its ground as an independent, grassroots, and community-oriented festival for thirty years. Mayworks continues to carve out a space for artists, cultural workers, and trade unionists working in a range of mediums to engage with the common struggles of artists and labourers.
The 30th annual festival launches with silkscreen printing workshops facilitated by members of the Justseeds Artists’ Collective. At these workshops participants are encouraged to print materials for Toronto’s annual May Day rally. The evening of the rally, we are celebrating with the United May Day Committee at a concert featuring worker-positive performances. Later in the festival we are presenting the Toronto premier of the album Work Songs about an activist and organizer’s struggles to remain hopeful while attempting to reach personal and political goals. Closing our festival Mayworks Rising: 30th Birthday Party and Concert is a musical co-presentation with BOLD As Love, a series dedicated to uniting racialized and Indigenous artists and communities.
We are featuring three visual arts exhibits exploring a range of themes. Portrait of Solidarity is showcasing how five artists with a rich history with Mayworks have taken up the issue of migrant labour; Like Flesh and Blood draws on the historic figure Joseph Emin to speak to the similarities of indentured labour in the 18th and 19th century and global migration patterns of contemporary, and often racialized, labour forces; and the research-heavy Do what with less? visual arts exhibit highlights challenges faced by over thirty interviewed workers in the cultural sector.
We are also presenting three theatre performances: including What Ails Your Soul – a culminated performance of a series of theatre workshops in which Jane Finch Action Against Poverty members, community artists and residents share the stories of their lived experience of poverty; the one-woman multidisciplinary play The Erasable Woman takes up the issue of invisible labour and transgenerational trauma; and the theatre piece Life on the Line – recounts the six-month women’s strike at Eatons in the winter of 1984-85. Along with these theatre works, we are excited to be screening Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) – a 2014 Oscar-nominated film about a female worker fighting to keep her job.
Our co-presentation with Jane’s Walk, is featuring a walking tour of downtown Toronto that informs participants about the labour movement’s anti-war positions against World War I. And our co- presentation with Turtle House Art and Play Centre, an art-based organization programming activities primarily for children and families from refugee backgrounds, is providing a free drumming workshop open for all. Another workshop we are proud to host is Co-Creating Images For The World We Want To See, teaching participants how to design images that reflect the significant work of artists, social justice organizers, and labourers.
Reflecting on the festival’s artistic direction over the years, one can see that Mayworks’ programming reflects the diversity of our city’s unionized, migrant, un-waged, and precarious workers while building links between precarity in the art world and broader patterns of precarious work in the city, and globally. We hope you enjoy the 30th annual festival!
GIVE $30 FOR 30 YEARS OF ART, LABOUR & SOCIAL JUSTICE
As part of the 30th year celebrations, Mayworks has launched its first-ever crowdfunding campaign. We are asking Mayworks’ friends and supporters to “Give $30 for 30 years of Art, Labour and Social Justice“.
- A space where artists, workers and community members gather to share creative labour and struggles
- Artists being fairly paid for their work
- Opportunities for young, diverse, marginalized and emerging artists
- Good wages & benefits for unionized Mayworks staff
- Partnerships with unions, community groups & artists’ organizations
- A festival where most events are free or pay what you can
- Community-based, accessible venues
- Please visit our crowdfunding site and make a donation to join our 30 for 30 campaign: https://fwyc.ca/campaigns/mayworks-festival-working-people-and-arts
- Please share the link on social media and over email with friends, family, co-workers and encourage them to join the 30 for 30 campaign.