In June 2019, the Bookfair 2020 collective reached out to the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective seeking their support of our event. This happened following a good few weeks of deliberations over if we really want to do a bookfair in London. Seeing that the LABC had not put on a bookfair for two years, we decided to reach out to them, hoping for a transition of their resources, namely the website, social media accounts and whatever funds they had left over from the last bookfair they organised in 2017.
In early July, a Bookfair 2020 collective member met a member of the LABC for an informal chat in order to update them on our plans. This meeting went in a friendly manner. The LABC member agreed to pass on our statement and the request for resources to the rest of the collective and update us on the outcome. We noted to them that we were not asking for permission to organise an Anarchist bookfair in London, but merely wanted to know if they would be happy to pass on their resources to the new crew wanting to organise this event.
Shortly after that meeting, we sent out our statement of intent to organise the next Bookfair 2020 event to that collective member, and they forwarded it to the rest of the LABC. In the meantime, we kept ourselves busy with preparations to announce Bookfair 2020. At some point, another LABC member reached out, informing us that they did receive our request and would be discussing it in the near future. We responded with an email saying that while we were waiting for their, hopefully positive, response, we would carry on as scheduled. At this point, we were already busy with reaching out to groups and had a venue booked for our first meeting, and since the questions to LABC were not regarding whether we would organise this event, we decided to carry on.
the response from the LABC came in on the 11th
Their email informed us that they would not “endorse an event involving banning of individuals (except for known cops and fascists) and of discussion around certain areas”. They also told us that they would maintain control of the London Anarchist Bookfair’s social media and webspace and that the LABC would limit support to a donation of £1000 for the purpose of “accessibility around child care, mobility and disability and trying to engage more people of colour”.
The following is our response as sent on the 7th of September.
We are disheartened by the collective’s inability to endorse Bookfair2020 due to our zero tolerance approach to bigotry and aim to provide a safer space for all our comrades. This policy is something we share with every other Anarchist and Radical Bookfair in the UK. Anarchist events should be bastions for the vulnerable and oppressed, and we will not taint that with even the slightest welcome for those who base their politics on hate.
You are welcome to donate to Bookfair2020 however you see fit.
However, we have concerns about the pool of funding remaining which was donated and raised by people and groups for the purpose of holding events and strengthening the Anarchist movement. While it is clear that you have decided you will not endorse Bookfair2020, we believe the funds that you are withholding should go towards helping improve and strengthen other areas of anarchist struggle. This money should not be left sitting in a bank account and it would be better to see it in circulation. We recommend transparency for the funds you currently have access to, and for you to donate them to a group like The Outsiders Project or Streets Kitchen.
For our part we have agreed to put in place a plan for forwarding residue finances and where appropriate, make our ongoing accounts transparent and accessible.
Regarding the social media accounts and website; we’re not sure what the purpose is of withholding these is. We would ask that you deactivate them or at least include a prominent re-direction notice as they will serve no purpose other than to confuse people looking for info on the Anarchist Bookfair in 2020.
The Bookfair 2020 Collective