2016 Festival Artists/ Performers

Mayworks in the Workplace: Day of Mourning

Amai Kuda and Y Josephine are singer/songwriters, percussionists, community activists and educators who live in a caravan in the country part-time. They believe in the power of music to heal and change the world, and towards this end they have created their own brand of music called AfroSoul. Their new release, AfroSoul Volume II: MaZai, is the follow-up to Amai Kuda’s debut album, Sand from the Sea – described as “one of the year’s most exciting discoveries” by Nicholas Jennings (Canada’s foremost music journalist and historian). As a solo artist, Amai Kuda has also been featured on CBC’s Big City Small World, and opened for Kellylee Evans, Climbing PoeTree, LAL, d’bi young, Kinnie Starr, and Sarah Slean, while Y Josephine, with over two decades experience as a working musician, has performed and recorded with a host of bands in Venezuela, Aruba, Spain, the UK and now Canada. As Edinburgh’s The Skinny (magazine) said, “Y Josephine plays guitar, somehow gets a whole drum kit out of a Peruvian fruit box, and sings in a sweet, smoky, untouchably cool voice.”

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The two first came together for a tour in the spring of 2013 and have since developed their sound while performing on the street and at local farmer’s markets, as well as at venues like the University of Windsor, The Rivoli and The Garrison, and festivals like Luminato, Kultrun and Big on Bloor. Over the past year and half, ‘Y n’ Amai’ have also given workshops on music, decolonization, African cultures and percussion at public schools, Universities, libraries and community centres throughout Toronto and Southern Ontario. They were selected as one of the 101 Standout artists during the 2015 nationwide Searchlight competition.  Whether on the street, the stage or in the studio, for these two, music is about healing – the healing of ancestors, the land, the self, the community and society. You can find Amai Kuda and Y Josephine on facebook and youtube as well as at ynamai.com.

Concert: May Day Celebration

Baro Dununba has been playing together since 2006.  Their mission: to elevate the traditional arts to the level of virtuosity.  This is why they teach community classes.  And why they perform outreach with performances like what we will hear today.

Bermuda born, Toronto based poet Dane Swan‘s second collection, A Mingus Lullaby (published by Guernica Editions) shares poetry that expresses Dane’s love of music and passion for social justice and is in stores now. Dane’s poetry, short stories, and opinionated editorials have been published in four countries.

Mahlikah Awe:ri is a First Nations drum talk poetic rapologist; poet, musician, MC, arts educator, radio host, Deputy Executive of the Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development in Regent Park, and an inaugural Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow. She is a founding member of Red Slam Collective.

Mahlikah Awe-ri. Photo credit- Joanne McConnell

Veteran guitarist and Juno-winning producer Tony Quarrington has been reinventing himself lately as a singer/songwriter. In 2012 he brought out two CDs of original tunes, First Set and Gathering Place: Songs of Toronto. His tunes are passionate and political and sometimes kind of bluesy.

Workshop: Losing Work, Losing Face, Losing Community

Anu Radha Verma is a queer diasporic sometimes-femme with complicated connections to ‘south asia.’ She has lived, worked, played, studied and struggled in places as disparate as Mississauga, Peterborough, New Delhi and Toronto. She has done work around employment equity for several years, and is interested in finding spaces for sharing and healing after her own experience of job loss in a community organization.

Leonarda is a Salvadorian born writer and poet. In her work she explores issues of belong and loss. She is a member of the Pages on Fire Collective where she works with other members to develop anti-racism and anti-oppression workshops and events. In her spare time she loves jumping on her trampoline.

Exhibition: Butterfly Voices

Alvis Choi is an artist, performer, facilitator and researcher based in Toronto. Alvis’ work was presented at SummerWorks Festival, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics – Encuentro, Performance Studies international (PSi), and Rhubarb Festival. Alvis currently serves as the Chairperson of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter.

Elene Lam (LLM, LLB, MSW, BSW) has advocated for sex workers, migrant, labour and gender justice for more than 15 years. She is the Founder of Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) and co-founder of Migrant Sex Workers Project. She has developed different community art projects in Hong Kong and Canada. 

Exhibition: art / work

Benjamin McCarthy is a father, teacher, and interdisciplinary artist. He’s written poetry, research papers and a screenplay, only some of which were published. After releasing a number of experimental pop albums he’s now turned his mercurial hand to theatrical sound design and sound art. Unfaithful to a form, his work consistently addresses themes of gender, sexuality and the radical redress of woes wrought by capitalism.

Artists featured in interviews:

Cat Bluemke & Jon Carroll are young undergraduates finishing up their work at OCADU whose work as members of the new media arts collective Tough Guy Mountain has earned them acclaim and notoriety throughout the Toronto arts scene.

Star Amerasu is a musician and performance artist with a yen for musical theatre. In recent months she’s brought her politically incisive, queer indie poptronica from embattled Oakland, to Paris, Berlin, and to the humble electronic scene of the 6ix.

Alexandra Mackenzie is a multi-disciplinary visual and recording artist. Performing under the moniker Petra Glynt her music is powerful, operatic, and disarming, and is set to take the international scene by storm.

Playwright, filmmaker, choreographer and author Jordan Tannahill is the interdisciplinary artist’s interdisciplinary artist. Tannahill won the Governor General’s Award for English-language drama for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays in 2014.

Artwork Benjamin McCarthy Mayworks-1

Victoria Cheong is a DJ, musician, artist and label curator whose work and efforts are central to Toronto’s underground scene. As New Chance, she creates ensnaring and hypnotic house-infused tracks that take philosophical themes for their hooks.

Artist, educator, and curator Adrienne Crossman is currently a Programming Coordinator at Xpace Cultural Centre. Her work is concerned with locating and/or creating a queer aesthetic and with the exploration on non-normative and non-binary spaces.

Jacob Wren makes literature, performances and exhibitions. He is a co-artistic director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART and his recent literary output includes the ineluctable and timely Polyamorous Love Song and the collection If Our Wealth Is Criminal Then Let’s Live With the Criminal Joy of Pirates.

Amy Lam & Jon Pham McCurley make up the performance art group Life of a Craphead. Scathingly humorous and lithely political their first feature length film Bugs recently premiered at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Exhibition: Her Hands Guide Me

Alejandra Higuera is a multi-disciplinary artist who works with video projection, photography, animation, sound and installation. Since 2007 Alejandra has been involved in community arts and strongly believes in the power of art to create social change. Her work explores issues of migration, oppression and the many ways in which we create healing spaces.

Luz Tirado comes from a family of artists and has been creating and exploring with art her whole life. As a young child, her family resided in the Colombian jungle where her mother planted the seeds of Luz’s life-long artistic journey by teaching her to sew and make small handicrafts.

janet romero-leiva is a queer feminist latinx visual artist and writer whose work explores immigrant bodies, denied aboriginality, queer and of colour existence and the experience of living in between north and south, between spanish and english.


Margarita Romero learned to knit and crochet at a very young age by watching the womyn in her family make beautiful baby clothes, sweaters, scarves and rugs. In the past couple of years she has developed a passion for working with recycled/reusable material such as pop can tabs, buttons and plastic.

Workshop: Sacred Art Medicine

Zainab Amadahy is an author, screenwriter, researcher and educator. She has authored novels, creative non-fiction books and screenplays. Zainab is a frequent contributor to Muskrat Magazine as well as many other publications. Links to most of her work can be found on her site at www.swallowsongs.com.

Performance: Dance Is A Weapon

Pam Johnson is a choreographer with a long list of credits in dance, theatre, opera and film. Her choreography has appeared in fFida, Dances for a Small Stage, Square Zero, Dance Matters, theatre and film productions, and on bicycles, trapezes and in anti-war events. She has produced her own work including Brother, Can you spare a dime? as well as the work of other creators. She has created work for the MacMaster Dancers, Flightworks Dance Co., composer John Oswald, Kid in the Hall Bruce McCullough, actor/playwright Diane Flacks and performance artist Phillip Barker and taiko drummers, Raging Asian Women. As a director, Pam’s credits include the Canadian premier of Marx in Soho and A Tribute to Howard Zinn. Her film credits include features Zero Patience and Million Dollar Babies and work on many independent films. She has toured the world as an actor/dancer with the acclaimed Canadian Opera Co. production, Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung directed by Robert LePage. She is also a committed trade union activist and socialist.

Corrie Sakaluk is a performing artist compelled to explore highly physical and dramatic movement phrases to communicate emotions and ideas on social, political and historical themes. Corrie has performed with Danza Corpus Canada, with We Are Knot Rivals in the award-winning Fringe production I Was Born White (2014) and in Caged Bird by Olivia Davies at the 60X60 Dance Festival. Her ensemble choreography Untitled (Georgia Lee) was presented at Harbourfront Centre Enwave Theatre as part of The Chimera Project’s Fresh Blood Festival. Her duets Crack My Eyes andPajaro have been performed at the Trigger Festival and the James Street North Supercrawl. Corrie has also been a member of the dance-theatre collective MataDanZe since 2009, creating and performing throughout the GTA, Venezuela and El Salvador. Corrie holds an undergraduate degree in theatre & philosophy from York University and a certificate in dance performance from George Brown College.

Walking Tour: Mapping Our Work

Marion Endicott worked for decades with the injured worker community at a community legal clinic. She helped develop a walking tour on the history of workers compensation in Ontario and associated labour struggles, as well as a play profiling injured workers’ stories, Easy Money, which debuted at Mayworks in 2005.

Maureen Hynes founded and coordinated George Brown College’s School of Labour. With David Kidd, she developed Mapping Our Work: Labour History Walking Tours of Toronto.  She has a long history of feminist, anti-racist, queer and union activism; is an award-winning poet; and is poetry editor for Our Times.

JP Hornick is the current Coordinator of the School of Labour at Toronto’s George Brown College and a long-time social activist. An experienced educator and steward, she is committed to bringing a socially-progressive labour perspective to students and workers through workshops, training, and community events.

Sue Smith has, since retirement from the Toronto Public Service, been studying printmaking. Her projects support people who are working to change our communities and finding creative ways to work together. She finds inspiration by spending time outdoors, leading labour history walks, and engaging in community and travel.

Phoenix Yuan is a political and labour organizer.  She has worked on a number of political campaigns and union organizing drives and has more than 10 years of experience as a social justice advocate.

Film: Behind the Fare

Mariam Zaidi is a South Asian documentary filmmaker based in Toronto whose short films have been shown at local and international festivals. After completing her MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Zaidi went on to work for various production houses in the city. She is currently working as an associate producer on a feature-length documentary film commissioned by TVO, which follows the stories of female migrant farm workers living and working under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Southern Ontario. Mariam is a Shaw Media Hot Docs Diverse Voices Fellow and in addition to her work as an associate producer, Zaidi also holds the position of Distribution Assistant at the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

Loveleen Kaur is a community organizer, speaker and documentary filmmaker. She holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science, specializing in Public Policy and an MA in Cultural Studies. The combination of personal, work and theoretical background has given her a unique set of skills to approach storytelling. She has been involved in various film projects and campaigns that have centered the art and activism of racialized youth.

loveleen and mariam

Theatre: Marx in Soho

John Ball is a director, actor, and professor of English at University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton. He has directed many Theatre UNB productions and acts regularly with Bard in the Barracks, playing Polonius, Lear, Malvolio, and others. A former Toronto resident, John is thrilled to be presenting Marx in Soho at Mayworks.

Jeffrey Bate Boerop has performed professionally for Theatre New Brunswick, and has appeared in numerous non-professional stage and film productions in New Brunswick and in Toronto. He performed Marx in Soho in Fredericton in 2014 and 2015. He is completing an MA in political science at UNB.

Performance: Superbutch

Originally from Halifax, now living in Toronto, Janet Kimber divides her time between her two photography studios. Her work has won numerous advertising awards, and has been nominated for several JUNOs. While continuing her commercial photography practice, Janet is also studying art history at OCAD and evolving her fine art practice.

Dinah Thorpe works in Toronto as a singer, songwriter, and music producer. She has been called “one of the best voices we’ve heard in the twenty-first century,” “a wicked multi-instrumentalist,” “a composer of infinite cleverness,” and “provocative and supremely artful.” Dinah also moonlights as a butch model.