The Bookfair 2020 organising collective announced yesterday that they have secured a venue and set a date for the next year’s event. Here is a report back from Bookfair 2020 crew on their last meeting.
On October the 12th, a few members of the Bookfair 2020 organising collective met up in London to carry on with our planning. We have just over a year to go and wanted to set down some of the fundamental elements of the event and establish our “vision” for the return of an anarchist bookfair to London.
Our first order of business was to go over the venue details. A couple of us had swung by the venue early in the day and wanted to report back. The North London venue is composed of a large hall, a bar/cafe, concert hall, and a number of ancillary spaces all of which are going to made available. It is wheel chair accessible throughout and is located within a healthy dose of public transport nearby with adequate loading and unloading space. The owner is a kindred spirit who was keen to make his space available and after a cover over a few of the details, we pencilled in the weekend of October 16th -18th as a window for Bookfair 2020.
We discussed the venue and decided that we would provisionally confirm it, choosing Saturday the 17th for the Bookfair itself. We decided that right now we would keep to a single day event with the two additional days being available for fringe events. We’ve heard commentary both in favour and against a two day event, so this remains a point of discussion we will come back to in January at the start of our organising campaign proper.
We were at this point joined by a couple of comrades from Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action. After introductions, we went over the plan so far. This initiated a discussion on the nature of anarchistic events and how they can often feel exclusionary to black and minority ethnic comrades. This has been a point of concern for us from the start. This is no new endeavour of ours of course, the prior organising collective (and the anarchist movement in general) have long been committed to developing our shared movement into a more equal and equitable space for all. Anti racism and de-colonialism are common themes to anarchist organising in the UK and we aim to continue on with this fine tradition.
In building Bookfair 2020, we have to take into consideration the interests of comrades from across the anarchist spectrum. We agreed in principle that our discussions and debates would be progressive in nature, seeking mutually beneficial solutions and this is something that we believe is needed in the wider movement as we seek to re-invigorate ourselves as a community.
Back in 2017, seven demands were made of the LABC in a widely shared statement;
- To change the date of the LABF in future years so it does not clash with the United Friends & Family Campaign Annual Demonstration and to actively promote attendance at the annual UFFC March.
- A clear statement outlining the politics the LABF is committed to, what kinds of behaviour and views are unacceptable and unwelcome at the Bookfair, and what action will be taken by organisers if these boundaries of acceptable behaviour are ignored by attendees or speakers.
- A clear statement of political values that reflect the above boundaries and that speakers, those hosting meetings, and those with stalls must clearly commit to in order to be able to participate.
- A commitment to incorporating anti-racist and de-colonial struggles into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out local black, brown and people of colour led groups to work with and run these meetings.
- A commitment to incorporating queer and trans struggles into the program of the Bookfair by providing space for workshops and meetings and actively seeking out queer and trans lead groups to work with and run these meetings.
- A commitment to physical accessibility in all its forms. Firstly, by making sure that workshops and meeting spaces are able to be physically entered by people using wheelchair or mobility devices and that movement through and around the buildings is not reliant on having to wait for an organiser to open a door or operate a lift. Secondly, by incorporating into the program workshops relating to accessibility and disability struggles led by those directly affected by these issues.
- A commitment to continue the “no cameras” and “no filming” rule without exception given.
While we’re aware that some comrades had issues with the statement itself, and felt it dismissive of the solid work the LABC had done on these grounds, in founding a new collective, we have inherited an obligation to fulfill these demands and this is what we aim to do. Our intention here is to not only “provide a platform” but to embed the principles of diversity, inclusivity and accessibility into Bookfair 2020 in all aspects. We agreed that these principles would become woven into the visual aesthetic of Bookfair 2020 and be self evident in all our media. We also resolved ourselves to pro-actively maintain an organising collective which is diverse in character.
We welcome thoughts and opinions from comrades on improving our practice. We’d love to hear your thoughts on ensuring bookfair and supplemental events are welcoming to all regardless of ancestry, capacity or identity.
After this we discussed making bookfair more accessible as a point of information on Anarchism and felt that it would be a grand idea to have a “bookfair Podcast/Youtube stream” throughout the day. This would be broadcast from a dedicated space and could be used to connect with comrades around the world, sharing the experiences of comrades around the globe. This broadcast may also feature interviews and perhaps even have specific debates and talks, we’d love peoples input on what kind of stuff they’d like to see here, whether that’s ideas for discussions, offered to host interviews or perhaps thoughts in inviting popular Youtubers or what not.
Our final decision was one of branding. Taking into account our aim to make a series of posters for Bookfair 2020 addressing various points of struggle. These will be made by various artists but held together thematically and be available early next year. Would you like to contribute your art? Get in contact
Additional to this meeting, we would just like to extend our gratitude to the mysterious benefactor who dropped of a donation for us with the crew at Freedom Bookshop, that was very kind! Since others have been asking, our intention is to have our donation mechanic set up for January. This is also when we will begin sending out invites and provide an application method for stalls and talks.
We’ve had a couple of concerns raised that we had ignored this/that group, as they had not been invited, please note that the attendees listed (mostly) contacted us and requested a spot. We have a rather sizeable list of networks and individuals we intend to invite and you can probably expect that early next year. If you or your organisation would like to a confirm a stall at this early juncture just say ‘ello and we’ll sort you right out.
If you would like to get involved with organising the Anarchist bookfair in London next year, get involved with producing artwork or if you would like a stall send us an email to [email protected].
Finally we’ve been somewhat quiet since setting up, after the initial drama created by err, existing, we’ve left the social media and website as a holding page. However as we gear up over the next few months you should expect ever increasing updates and regular posts. Please like, follow and share our pages and help us make Bookfair 2020 a kick ass event for all!
Love and Rage
~ The Bookfair2020 Crew