A Festival for Working People and the Arts

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Mayworks Fredericton Celebrates International Worker’s Day

22826_877824798922701_6000612256709112551_nThis week welcomes Fredericton’s first Mayworks festival, a multi-disciplinary arts celebration presented by the Fredericton and District Labour Council.  The event brings together visual arts, music, film, theatre, spoken word and lectures in support of social, economic and environmental justice.

“It’s a real celebration of international worker solidarity and we include artists and musicians as workers,” said FDLC president and popular city musician Alex Bailey.  “Sometimes we don’t think of artists in this sense because when we hear the term ‘worker’ we often think of factory workers or Walmart workers, things like that.  But really, a lot of us are actually working people and part of the working class whether we get a good salary or not.”

The FDLC was inspired to organize the festival after seeing other Mayworks events happening across the country.

“We looked at what Halifax was doing because they’ve been organizing a Mayworks festival for about six years now,” said Bailey.  “These festivals actually happen all across the country.  Seeing this inspired us to do something of our own.”

Mayworks got its start in Toronto back in the 1980s as a celebration of May Day, bringing together artists and musicians and anyone interested in human creativity.  The idea was simply to bring people together who shared a similar social conscience.

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

Mayworks Fredericton joins the new movement of multi-disciplinary arts festivals happening in Fredericton. Together with the Shifty Bits Circus and the recent Flourish festival, this new direction in festival programming embraces a diverse mix of artistic expressions under a common banner.

Mayworks’ initial call for submissions proved so popular organisers had to turn away some artists for this first edition of the festival.

“We put a call out to artists in January and received a really strong response,” said Bailey.  “I was really surprised.  In fact, we had so many responses that we couldn’t accommodate everyone who was interested in being part of our first year.  So next year’s Mayworks is going to include some of the people who submitted this year.”

One major highlight of this year’s festival is the one-person play, Marx in Soho, written by popular American activist/writer Howard Zinn.  The play was first presented by the FDLC last summer and stars local theatre artist Jeffery Bate Boerop with direction by John Ball.

Marx in Soho and all the events included in Mayworks Fredericton are free of charge and open to the public.

“We’re looking to pay all the artists a good union wage for all their services,” said Bailey.  “We’re doing things a bit differently by not charging of any of our events.  They’re all free.  The Labour Union came through with a number of sponsorships to support this year’s festival and we’ve also had some incredible support from local organisations like the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, The Fredericton Public Library, Cinema Politica, the Conservation Council and Reproductive Justice NB.  It’s all kinds of people who want to change the world for the better.”

Festival events include:

Visual Arts: The Workers’ Art Exhibition explores and celebrates working people and social justice. This will run April 4 – May 4 in the Fredericton Public Library.

Film: Pride is based on a true story of solidarity between LGBTQ activists and striking coal miners in 1984 Wales. It will be presented on April 25 at 7:00pm in the Charlotte Street Arts Centre auditorium. This event is sponsored by PIPSC Better Together.

Unearthed. Filmmaker Jolyn Minaar uncovers the dirty secrets of the fracking industry. This film is presented on May 1 at 6:00pm following a potluck at 5:00pm with the filmmaker at Conserver House, located at 180 Saint John St.

Public Talk: Martin Butler at 100: Fredericton’s Unknown Worker-Poet with Prof. David Frank from UNB’s History Department. This will be presented on April 29 at 7:00pm in the Fredericton Public Library.

Theatre: Marx in Soho. Howard Zinn introduces us to Karl Marx, a most human of revolutionaries, driven by a deep passion for social justice. This will run at 7:30pm, April 30 – May 2, and at 2:00pm on May 2 in the STU Black Box.

Music: Pete Seeger Tribute, Open Mic, celebrates the champion of folk music and social change at 8:00pm on May 1 in the James Joyce Pub.

Poetry: El Jones: Poetry and Power is a powerful spoken word performance from the poet laureate of Halifax on May 2 at 9:00pm at Ingrid Mueller Art+Concepts, in the Delta Fredericton.

Mayworks Fredericton: Festival of Working People and the Arts launches on April 23 from 1:00 – 2:00pm at the Fredericton Public Library.  For more information, visit Mayworks Fredericton on Facebook.

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