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Participants in the 2018 MYAIF. Screenshot: YouTube/MASC.

MASC launches virtual festival for young authors and and illustrators

By Shireen Agharazi-Dormani on April 16, 2021

Founded over 30 years ago, MASC brings the arts and culture to over 120,000 children, youth, teachers, and seniors annually. This local community arts organization represents a diverse group of 138 professional artists who offer workshops, performances, artist-in-residence programs, and professional development in all artistic fields.

With support from Livecast.ca, MASC is launching the first virtual edition of the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival (MYAIF). On Saturday, April 17, from 9:15am to 3:15pm, students in grades six to eight will take part in literary events and creative workshops with the authors and illustrators who interest them most.

“MASC is delighted to be hosting our beloved MYAIF in a virtual way this month, and we are thrilled with the willingness of our artists to join us on this new adventure,” says Wendy Hartley, Co-Executive Director of MASC. “We all know that this year, more than ever, our young writers and illustrators are yearning for these rich, interactive masterclasses and literary connections.”

Hosted by JustJamaal ThePoet, this year’s event will feature authors and illustrators who have participated in this event in the past. They include authors Kevin Sands, Monique Polak, Jessica Scott Kerrin and Melanie Florence, and illustrators Katherine Battersby and Kean Soo.

Along with the masterclasses led by artists, the festival will include two panels: Meet the Authors and Illustrators, and Truth or Lie. In the latter, the artists will share stories and challenge the participants to distinguish fact from fiction. The students will also work collaboratively on a poem with JustJamaal and perform it at the end of the day.

While this year’s festival is sold out, MASC also offers virtual classroom visits with the artists taking part in MYAIF 2021. Artists will talk about the writing process and their literary inspirations, lead discussions related to their books, and offer writing and drawing tips.

“Books have been an oasis for many people, especially over the past year,” says Faith Seltzer, Artistic Director of MYAIF. “Books provide us with the opportunity to use our imaginations, to think creatively, to explore different worlds, and to relate to others, both like and unlike us. Being able to meet with the artists behind these books is such a treat for young people craving that deeper connection.”


The MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival will take place on Saturday, April 17, from 9:15am to 3:15pm. Learn more about the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival on their website and check out past profiles of MASC artists on Apt613.