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Markham Creates: Creative Writing Challenge

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Markham Creates: Creative Writing Challenge

Markham Public Library, Ont.

Education - Adults | 2020

Innovation Summary

This virtual initiative was launched in late May to get the community to unleash their creativity and showcase their talents while we self isolated. We received around 30 submissions and ran one-on-one workshops with the finalists with author Missy Marston. Finally, we created an e-book for Overdrive using the finalists' final drafts.

Problem Statement

The main challenge was to create community during a time when everyone was self-isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to create a virtual, cultural event that all residents of Markham could participate in. The City of Markham invited all residents of Markham to create, engage and share their artistic expressions and be part of a city movement. During a time of social distancing, through the arts, we can connect and find joy.


Using Your Voice Markham’s website to collect and publicly display each contestant’s submission enabled us to create publicity around the contest. We collaborated with all of the City of Markham’s cultural centers to create advertising and prizes. This included the Markham Museum, Varley Art Gallery and Flato Theatre. Every aspect of this program was done digitally and we were still able to forge a unique community experience. The goal was to reach the widest audience possible and make the challenges accessible.


Finalists were provided with the opportunity to learn from professionals in the writing community, such as Missy Marston, author of last year's Markham Reads selection, as well as Ariana Ferrone, writer and Community Librarian, Culture and Creativity. Final works will be showcased by the library and other culture venues. Finalists will be part of an e-book that will be available through the library's digital collection. Our finalists reported a sense of achievement, happiness and community after their workshops.