May Week / Mayworks

In 1985, Catherine MacLeod established the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts in Toronto. Ground Zero participated in the inaugural festival and subsequently Don Bouzek became a member of the Board of Directors. Since then, the concept has spread to cities such as Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Brandon and Winnipeg. In Edmonton, it was called May Week.

This network of Festivals has provided a touring circuit for a number of GZP shows, including Banner Theatre tours and GWG: Piece by Piece.

Mandate - Edmonton May Week

The Festival’s aim is to build a relationship between artists and working people, particularly those in the Labour Movement. It de-mystifies the work artists do by offering opportunities for interaction with people on “their own ground” – placing an artist in residence with the Edmonton and District Labour Council [EDLC] or presenting concerts in workplaces. At the same time this contact breaks down some of the stereotypes artists hold, especially about unionized workers. The festival also acknowledges that many people with artistic talent and training are not able to support families from their artistic creation. So, for example, a Workers’ Art show included paintings by a man who had been an artist and professor of art in the Philippines, but who now works as a school custodian.

After the 2009 Festival, May Week suspended operations in Edmonton.

GZP Role

Two events were traditionally produced with GZP.

The Day of Mourning: Don Bouzek worked with Visual artist Lynette Maurice and later, Cindy Zuby to create an annual event in commemoration of workers killed or injured on the job. Sponsored by the Alberta Federation of Labour, the City Hall performance mixed music, spoken word and visual imagery.

May Day March: Each year, the May Day March featured specially designed visual elements in a parade setting down Whtye Avenue. Most years, local sculptor Memi von Gaza designed the overall event, working in collaboration with Don Bouzek.