International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. To honour this important date, Mayworks is excited to give you a sneak peak of two events from our upcoming 2017 program, featuring the contributions of women in the arts. Full details of the events – including time, location, and community partners involved – will be released on April 1st, when our official program is released. In the meantime, feel free to mark your calendars with these two very important and exciting events.

Opening Reception & Festival Launch:
Monday May 1, 7 pm – 10 pm, Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street
April 8 – May 30, The Public Window Gallery, 58 Lansdowne Avenue
April 24 – May 19, Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street
May 1 – 28, Whippersnapper Gallery, 594b Dundas Street West

Art and Tomatoes is a visual exhibition and public installation that highlights and reflects on Justice For Migrant Workers’ Harvesting Freedom campaign, organized to mark the 50th year in which migrant farmworker come to Canada to feed our families yet have no access to citizenship. It was one of the most important workers’ rights, anti-racist, migrant justice mobilizations of 2016. Exhibiting at three distinct spaces – a contemporary art gallery, an activist design studio and a workers union hall – this fluid intersection of art, design and activism carries a deep intentionality about the artworks and their impact. Art and Tomatoes also serves as a conduit for its young, queer and gender nonconforming, Indigenous and organizers of colour’s unapologetic demand to be recognized as artists and leaders in their communities.

Join the artists Tzazná + Queso and Mayworks for the opening reception and festival launch at our home venue Steelworkers Hall following the May Day Toronto rally and march on International Workers’ Day on May 1, 7 – 10 pm.

Co-presented with Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative – Toronto, No One Is Illegal
Co-sponsors: United Steelworkers’ Toronto Area Council, United Steelworkers Local 1998

Opening Reception & Performance:
Thursday May 4, 7 pm – 10 pm
Exhibition: April 13 – June 3
Gallery Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday: 10 am – 2:30 pm, Thursday & Friday: 12 – 6 pm,
Saturday: 11 am – 5 pm
Sur Gallery, 39 Queens Quay East, Suite 100

To ‘strike a chord’ is to create or trigger an emotional negative or positive response to an action. In this exhibition, artists respond to times of peril by presenting scenarios of violence, responding with the action of protest and healing while conjuring an atmosphere of resistance. At times when our role as citizens seem to ever more bluntly demonstrate that actions need to be taken in order for there to be change, Montreal-based artist Claudia Bernal, Toronto-based artists Coco GuzmanJulieta Maria and David Salazar, use performance, video, installation, sculpture and drawing to position themselves as activists in a society that has revealed its ultra-right wing ideology.

Curated by Tamara ToledoStrike A Chord presents multiple perspectives and offers the possibility of change through the use of various tools to activate social integrity, social justice, and respect.
Join us for the opening reception with artist talks and a performance by Montreal-based artist, Claudia Bernal at Sur Gallery on May 47 – 10 pm.

Co-presented with aluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival
Supported by imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Co-sponsors: Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Want to find out more about these two events? Stay tuned to our website for more details and for more sneak peaks of the 2017 program.


Mayworks is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2017 Mayworks Labour Arts Awards:

  • Lillian Allen is the recipient of the Min Sook Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Labour Arts. Community activist and two time Juno award winner, Lillian Allen is as a leading influential figure on the Canadian cultural landscape. She is an award winning and internationally renowned poet.
  • Pam Johnson is the winner of the Labour Activist Award for Excellence in Contribution to Labour Arts. A committed trade union activist, socialist, and educator, Pam Johnson has used her work in dance and theatre for 20 years in the struggle for labour rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice, and against poverty, war, and corporate globalization.
  • Syrus Marcus Ware is the winner of the Artist Award for Excellence in Contribution to Labour and Social Justice Movement. A Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator, Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture.
  • Human Rights Committee, USW Local 1998, is the winner of the Labour Organization Awards for Excellence for contribution to Labour Arts. Representing over 8000 staff at the University of Toronto, USW Local 1998’s STEELwool Project engaged almost 200 members of the local and raised awareness amongst the participants about the experiences of women facing harassment in the workplace.
  • Graphic History Collective is the winner of the Labour Creative Maverick Award. A group of activists, artists, writers, and researchers passionate about comics, history and social change, the Graphic History Collective produce alternative histories – people’s histories – using the accessible format of comics to help people understand the historical roots of contemporary social issues.

Please join us at the fifth annual Mayworks Labour Arts Awards Ceremony & Fundraising Gala, taking place on April 1, 2017 at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto at 6 pm.


1. The 2017 International Women’s Day Toronto March & Rally will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Participants will march under the banner of “Stop the Hate, Unite the Fight, Build the Resistance, Unity is Power”. Please invite yourself and your friends on Facebook here and spread the word!

2. Toward the Unknown: Refugee Journeys Photography Exhibition opens on March 31, 2017 and features photography of Tanya Bindra & Ali Mustafa. The exhibit examines the processes of identity formation and belonging among refugees and asylum-seekers, and captures the ambiguities and contradictions of their varied experiences. Find this event on Facebook here.

3. Over the past two years, major breakthroughs have been made for low-wage workers in unionized supermarkets across Ontario. Recent rounds of collective bargaining, involving tens of thousands of grocery workers in major supermarket chains, have resulted in significant improvements to scheduling practices, work hour protections and wages. Within Ontario’s retail industry – one plagued by the demise of good-paying, full-time jobs and the rise of lower-paid, irregular part-time work – the recent experience of supermarket workers has been a positive development. But is it an isolated one? Learn more at the upcoming interactive panel session, “Precarious and Political: Retail Workers’ Struggle and Union Renewal in Ontario Supermarkets”. It will take place on March 24, 2017, from 12 – 4pm at the Thomas Lounge, Ryerson University. More information on this event may be found here