This year’s Mayworks celebrates the intersection of labour and the arts with a mix of live and digital events

Nova Scotia’s largest social justice-themed cultural event continues with its 12th annual festival.

Halifax-based musical artist Aquakultre joins DJ Uncle Fester for a live album concert as the kick-off to this year's Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax.
Halifax-based musical artist Aquakultre joins DJ Uncle Fester for a live album concert as the kick-off to this year's Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax.

Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax (formerly Mayworks Halifax) is back for the 12th annual festival celebrating the intersection of labour and the arts. But where last year’s festival was forced to go with both digital and socially distanced shows because of the pandemic, loosening restrictions means this year’s festival will present a wider mix of live and digital events.

“Organizing cultural events during a pandemic with no clear sense of what might be possible has certainly made the path forward a shifty one,” says festival director Sébastien Labelle in a media release. “Cancelling was never an option, and we were intent on presenting a program that would never give us a sense of ‘it would have been so much better if it wasn’t for…’”.

The festival kicks off on May Day as Aquakultre and DJ Uncle Fester perform a live album recording at The Derby Show Bar and opening act Kxng Wooz. Due to limited seating due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event will be recorded and released later.

The Derby Show Bar will also be host two Change The Game board game events in which players will have an opportunity to play Bloc By Bloc: The Insurrection Game and Space Cats Fight Fascism on two separate Sundays.

New this year, the festival partners with the Khyber Centre for the Arts for Toil Here, an exhibition of labour-centred visual art by artists from across the rural reaches of Mi’kma’ki. Using the languages of traditional domestic craft and fine art, the artists will explore different facets of rural life, labour and justice, and disrupt stereotypical notions of what rural “Maritime” art can be and speak to. This free exhibition, curated jointly by Mayworks and Khyber staff, will take place throughout May.

For those looking to stay closer to home, digital content this year includes Peter Sarty’s new sci-fi synthesizer space musical Journey to the Zone. This examination of our relationship to our online world is set in the year 3000 as the unlikely hero Jax and social media android Robopal journey deep into cyberspace to free humanity and bring peace to the digital realm.

In partnership with the Animation Festival of Halifax comes a curated collection of films by experimental animator Helen Hill celebrating love and care and Animating our stories: Exploring LGBTQ2S History through Animation, a collection of essays, comics, and other works exploring queerness, identity and representation in animation. The 2030 Collective returns with Archives Continuum, a digital storytelling archive presented through a multidisciplinary and multigenerational lens.

In the last week of the festival, textile artist Emily Comeau challenges the fashion industry with Pockets of Resistance, a workshop to learn how to sew pockets into your clothes.

This year’s final event is How We Won, a tribute concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of the community occupation of the Canada Employment Centre on Gottingen Street, the longest-lasting workplace occupation in the history of Canada. The concert features participants and family from the occupation and current community members reflecting on the legacy this collective action continues to uphold. Musical and spoken word acts will feature Corey Adams, Keonte Beals, Linda Carvery, El Jones, and MAJE.

A new edition of the festival’s now-iconic social justice trading cards returns featuring Portia White, Murdena Marshall, 1752, Gloria Baylis, alongside other instrumental figures and events in the struggle for equity.

Established in 2009, Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax has grown to become Nova Scotia’s largest social justice-themed cultural event, exploring social, economic, and environmental justice issues in a multi-disciplinary format.

Visit mayworkskjipuktukhfx.ca for tickets and the full list of scheduled events.

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