May 1st is marked throughout the world as International Workers’ Day, or May Day. A day when the workers of the world take to the streets in every major city around the globe demanding justice, fairness and dignity for all. In North America, May Day has not been as prominent as it is in other parts of the world, but it is still celebrated in most major cities with a variety of political and community actions. May Day, unlike Labour day, is a rallying call against our current economic system. The Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council believes in telling it like it is, so in plain language, “Capitalism Isn’t Working For Workers.”
One of the ways various labour councils and unions mark May Day is through the Mayworks Festival. Mayworks was conceived in 1986 by the Toronto and York District Labour Council and is the largest labour-sponsored arts festival in the country. The goal behind Mayworks is to bring workers and artists together and to use art to explore themes of social, economic and environmental justice. Art has always been an important way of expressing political statements. Bringing workers and artists together can create powerful images, films, plays and other forms of art.
The Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council’s goal in organizing the First Annual Mayworks Halifax Festival back in 2009 was threefold. First, it wanted to build bridges between workers’ organizations and artists’ organizations throughout the Halifax region. Second, it wanted to create a fun, entertaining festival that would engage people in both a cultural and political way. Third, at all times its goal in the labour movement is capacity building, training new activists and creating new coalitions.
The Mayworks Halifax Festival has grown so successful over the years that, just like in Toronto, a non-profit arts society has since been incorporated to manage and operate the festival with continued support from the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council and other local unions and labour organizations. Today the festival is an eagerly awaited annual event by activists, artists and socially engaged audience members throughout the region.
We continue to look forward to making Mayworks Halifax an even better and bigger festival every year!