Call for Applications: Mayworks Labour Arts Catalyst Residency 2024-2025

Zinnia Naqvi, The Professor’s Desk, 2023. Photographed by Wend Yasen

Mayworks’ Labour Arts Catalyst pairs artists with local labour organizations in a collaborative art-making process.

The Call for Submissions is open
Deadline: Monday, June 10, 11:59pm

The Mayworks’ Labour Arts Catalyst residency aligns with the vision of Mayworks to incite the creation of art that furthers our struggles for better working and living conditions. We invite artists across disciplines to create original work informed by research alongside their selected labour justice organization. The goal is to present the works at the Mayworks Festival in May 2025.

This year’s participating organizations are: Naujawan Support Network, Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, and Gig Workers United.

Eligibility note: If applying to work with Naujawan Support Network, speaking Punjabi is an asset. If applying to work with Gig Workers United, priority will be given to those with lived experience as a migrant worker.

We invite submissions from artists working in all disciplines: theatre, performance, music, installation, sculpture, film and video, visual art, digital media, and beyond. Artists will select the organization with whom they wish to work during the submission process.

Mayworks staff will facilitate initial meetings with the labour organization. Artists are then responsible for following up with their labour organization to continue research. Mayworks staff will provide further facilitation as required, support throughout the development and creation of the project, and mentorship. Artists will retain copyright and creative control of their work, but are expected to share a work in progress with the labour organization for feedback prior to completion of the artwork.

Apply Now

About the Labour Organizations

Gig Workers United, supported by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), is both full-time and part-time delivery app couriers; racialized and migrant workers; women and trans people; international students; and people with families. They are organizing for the transparent pay, livable wages, improved health and safety conditions, and labour protections gig workers deserve. As Foodsters United, they won the precedent-setting right to unionize at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and 89 percent of Foodora couriers voted YES to a union! After Foodora declared bankruptcy in Canada in the middle of a global pandemic, their organizing won a historic $3.46-million settlement that went to all Canadian couriers displaced by the company’s decision, not just union couriers. They’ve shown that gig workers can WIN the fight for better working conditions. Gig Workers United are making history by standing up to all apps with a union that is directed by gig workers. Learn more.

Naujawan Support Network (NSN) was created in June 2021 to stop the exploitation of Punjabi, Peel region-based workers at the hands of employers as well as landlords, immigration consultants, and the government. They discovered early on that the forces exploiting them were too diverse, entrenched, and powerful to challenge alone or through established legal or political channels. So they turned to one another, drawing on the rich tradition of sovereignty and resistance from their homeland, and chose to walk the path of struggle. NSN’s guiding philosophy comes from the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text and eternal Guru of the Sikh religion to which most NSN members belong: “ਆਪਣ ਹਥੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਵਾਰੀਐ,” meaning “with our own hands, let us resolve our own affairs.” Learn more.

The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) is a democratic, non-profit and independent organization based in Toronto, Canada. It brings together various grassroots groups, networks and organizations that carry out work in solidarity with progressive and democratic transformation processes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean. Learn more.


Each of the three selected artists will receive $2,000 toward the creation of their artwork. If the artwork is presented during the Mayworks Festival 2025, artists will receive an additional exhibition fee of $800.


Project development including meetings with labour organizations, research, and interviews may be done remotely. Installation, implementation and presentation including artist talks or other accompanying programming requires artists to be in Toronto. Mayworks will apply for funding to offset travel costs but this funding is not guaranteed.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, reside in Ontario and be available according to the timeline and locations listed above.


Email and/or attend our Labour Arts Catalyst Information Session:

Tuesday, May 21 at 6pm
Register Here
Meeting ID: 897 9756 1577
Passcode: 496668

Frequently Asked Questions

Can emerging artists apply?
Yes! Artists of all career levels are encouraged to apply. The jury recognizes self-taught practice, learning outside art institutions, and transferable skills.

Can mid-career and established artists apply?
Yes! Artists of all career levels are encouraged to apply. Mayworks prioritizes applicants of systematically marginalized groups.

What kinds of support material are accepted?
Diverse support materials are accepted (performance recording, poetry, photography, workshop facilitation, unexhibited works, etc). To strengthen application, work should be as relevant as possible to your proposal.

David Yu, Soon and Very Soon, 2022

What kinds of projects have been developed?
A wide range of projects across mediums have been developed. We are open to supporting artists in expanding towards new mediums. Some examples of past residency projects include…

Revolution Must Mean Life by Maysam Khreibeh, developed in collaboration with Labour for Palestine.

Soon and Very Soon by David Yu, in collaboration with UNITE HERE Local 75 and Toronto and York Region Labour Council.

The Professor’s Desk by Zinnia Naqvi, developed in collaboration with Asian Canadian Labour Alliance.

A Garden and a Library by Atanas Bozdarov, developed in collaboration with Disability Justice Network.

Atanas Bozdarov, A Garden and a Library, 2024

Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts annually presents new works by a diverse range of artists, who are both workers and activists. We prioritize the participation of artists and audiences from communities facing systemic discrimination. Our programming offers bold, insightful, responses to pressing issues at the intersection of art, social justice and labour. We are actively engaged in a social dialogue that challenges the logics of capitalism, and seeks to reimagine and represent a just future.

Instagram: @MayworksToronto
Twitter: @MayworksToronto
Facebook: /MayworksToronto

Mitra Fakhrashrafi
Curatorial & Programming Coordinator