Oakville labour strike shuts down popular World of Threads Festival


Published November 3, 2023 at 1:51 pm

textile art

An international fibre and textile art festival that made a long-awaited return from COVID this year has been postponed due to the Town of Oakville outside workers strike, less than halfway through its ten-week run.

The World of Threads Festival is a showcase of contemporary fibre and textile art that has been held in the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre since 1994. The event expanded to full festival status in 1998 and became international in 2009. The 2018 festival attracted more than 60,000 visitors.

The festival, which features 426 artworks this year from 115 artists from around the world (including England, Finland, France, Hungary, India, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Uruguay, USA, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Wales and Canada), opened October 10 and was scheduled to run until December 17.

The strike by the unionized workers, representing CUPE Local 136, has meant the closure of community centres and other facilities, including the Queen Elizabeth Centre.

“This strike has nothing to do with us,” festival organizers said of the labour disruption, while emphasizing they support workers and unions. “We will reopen as soon as the strike ends. “

The festival and its website have become a central hub for lovers of fibre art over the years with the Fibre Artist Interviews series, which has conducted 137 interviews with Canadian and international artists since its launch.

The volunteer-run festival has also received its share of honurs in its history, starting with Oakville’s Community Spirit Award for Volunteerism in the Arts in 2007, with organizer Dawne Rudman receiving the Oakville Volunteer of the Year the same year.

Rudman and Gareth Bate also won the Oakville Arts Council Community Impact Arts Award in 2015 for bringing global attention to Oakville and elevating the fibre/textile art form around the world. Rudman also received the Community Spirit Arts Award the following year.

This year’s fibre and textile art showcase features artwork in the main hall and themed art in the corridor galleries, including ‘Forever Covid,’ which commemorates the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact – then and now – it had on the lives of people in Oakville and around the globe; and Wings, a small group exhibition on birds.

The crowds at the 2016 festival

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