Mayworks Festival 2022

Mayworks Festival 2022 banner illustrated by Marcia Diaz @marcia_ilustra

Mayworks Festival 2022

May 1 – 31, 2021

The Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts is a community-based festival that annually presents new works by a diverse and broad range of artists who are both workers and activists.

From May 1 to May 31, free visual art, performance, film, artist talks and other activities at the intersection of art, social justice, and labour will take place in person across the city as well and online.

Artists in this year’s festival celebrate networks of care; exploring how working people extend care to each other through generations, how this care is forged in resistance and how it is shaped and remembered through story.

The festival showcases seven new works by nine local artists. Four of these new works were developed through Mayworks’ Labour Arts Catalyst Program, pairing artists and labour organizations in a collaborative art making process.

Breaking Barriers (2022) illustrated by Anna Jane McIntyre

Presented within a Hilton Toronto hotel room, Soon and Very Soon, by David Yu is a multi-sensory installation that incorporates sound bites from hotel workers belonging to UNITE HERE Local 75 to create an oral history grafted onto a representation of the “back of house”–an area in the service industry which connotes and supports specific class disparities.

Presented at the Art Gallery of York University, A Day in the Life, by Lola Lawson and Maandeeq Mohamed in collaboration with Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) is a spoken word performance, audio visual piece and essay that highlights the struggles, journeys and triumphs of Jane and Finch residents while reflecting on JFAAP’s role in the community.

Breaking Barriers: The Legacy of 12 Black Trade Unionists Changing Canada, by Anna Jane McIntyre and Alexandra C. Yeboah, is a bookwork and poster that highlights the experiences of organizers, artists and participants of the Coalition for Black Trade Unionists.

Presented at Whippersnapper Gallery, Revolution Must Mean Life, by Maysam Ghani in collaboration with Labour4Palestine, is a multi-disciplinary project that weaves poetry, film, installation and performance to trace the “crevice between hope and despair” and glimpses the intersections of the labour movement and the Palestinian liberation movement.

A Feeling Greater than Love (2018, Lebanon) by Mary Jirmanus Saba (still)

Guest curator, Mitra Fakrashrafi worked with three artists to develop In Transit; commissioned works located across Toronto by L. Akhter, Jessica Kirk and Sarom Rho. The artists respond to existing and deepening divides in Toronto, especially as shaped by transportation infrastructures with long histories of connecting and fracturing communities.

The festival also features international and local film screenings at Innis Town Hall including A Feeling Greater than Love (2017, Lebanon) by Mary Jirmanus Saba on May 7th and Company Town (2020, Canada) followed by a panel discussion on lessons learned from labour organizing against extraction on May 14th.

Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy (2021) by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

The week long online screening of Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy (2021) by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers will be paired with a panel discussion with Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction.

Closing the festival, Mayworks invites the community to celebrate worker’s gains through music and performance with Lacey Hill, Aysanabee, and more!

To learn more about Mayworks Festival 2022 and how to volunteer or get involved, please visit

Mitra Fakhrashrafi

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