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Report from the meeting held on October 12th

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 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 with a health 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 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 join 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;

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A commitment to incorporating anti-racist and de-colonial struggle 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.
  5. A commitment to incorporating queer and trans struggle 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 bookfair2020@protonmail.com.


Finally e’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

bookfair2020.org.uk
facebook.com/bookfair2020
twitter.com/bookfair2020

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BOOKFAIR MEETING 12TH OCTOBER

‘ello everyone

We’re having our second organiser meeting on the 12th of October In London from 6pm.
Our wee rag tag band of Anarchists will be meeting to discuss the wider “Vision for bookfair 2020”, start laying the ground work for our campaign drive (which will start early next year) and make some decisions re the venue, design theory and things like design.

Want to get involved? Fancy spending the next year hearding cats, talking to fantastic creatives and revolutionary spirits and fending off bigots while putting together a kick ass event? Maybe you just want to organise a fringe event or offer your skillset?

Give us a direct message or email us at bookfair2020@protonmail.com
x

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Statement regarding our communication with the LABC

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.

Finally, the response from the LABC came in on the 11th of August.
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.

Dear LABC

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.

Regards

The Bookfair 2020 Collective

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BOOKFAIR MEETING 10TH AUGUST

On the 10th of August we held out first organisation meeting in the heart of London. It was attended by a number of Anarchists from diverse backgrounds with various fields of interest. The majority of whom had decided to help organise the bookfair after reading our launch statement. Our primary order a business was to discuss the nature of the bookfair, tho we have fourteen months to go we wanted to make it clear the foundations on which everything else would be built upon, these are;[] We want bookfair to be diverse and inclusive; we will make a point of inviting black and minority ethic networks as well as those with a focus on queer identity, sex work and other issues which sometimes take a back foot at these events.

[] We want bookfair to be accessible; we aim to ensure that the venue is a positive space for people, not only with mobility issues but also sensory and mental health issues etc. This will also include provision for parents in the form of crèche space and the like.

[]This is an Anarchist bookfair; Anarchism is at the core of our organising and politics. There will also be stalls, talks and workshops from Anarchist friendly networks and fellow travellers in general. How “broad” a scope this is will vary as we intend to directly involve local community networks around London who otherwise may not attend an Anarchist bookfair.

[] We expect and will plan to for conflict. On a personal and political level. While Bookfair 2020 will not engage in pettifoggery and micro managing the sometimes difficult discussions between comrades, we have an established no bigotry policy and will be taking every step to secure the safety of stalls and attendees. No violence or abuse will be tolerated and the response will be swift.

[] Fringe events are to be encourage and promoted; taking from the success of The Anarchist Festival we will embrace associated events which other collectives/individuals wish to organise alongside Bookfair 2020 and add them as appropriate to our listings. Some of these may be on the day, the run up or after.

Current suggestions for this include;

  • An International Antifa boxing Tournament
  • The Peoples Comedy
  • Reel News Cinema
  • We Shall Overcome After Party
  • Anarchist Poetry event
  • Anarchist Gaming Tournament.
  • Network Conference

We also agreed upon some core methods of organisation and started to develop our internal democracy to ensure a healthy and productive working space for all members of the collective. There was also some discussion on the look and feel of the event we have in mind. We decided to create a colourful and open atmosphere in our branding; Stepping away from the more traditional red and black aesthetic.

Other things that were discussed were the nature of our support for International comrades, the invite policy (which we agreed to work on as a collective prior to sending out formal invitations) and discussed being open to a second day which perhaps could talk a more down tempo approach with a lighter schedule. This will depend on interest.
Finally we established a loose timeline. We intend to have all the “chickens in a row” for January 2019 with a campaign starting in earnest in late February / Early April. Our next face to face meeting is to be held on Oct 12th, Which will once again be a closed event, so if you wish to attend, get in contact and get involved.

We’re a long way down the road and energy is high, the team is quite keen on putting together a rocking Bookfair. Response to the announcement that an Anarchist bookfair was returning to London has been pretty positive (despite the expected reactionary troll campaign due to decision to provide a safer space for our comrades) and we’ve had lots of interest in stalls already as well as suggestions for talks and workshops.

Keep them coming 😉 and if you want to get involved say hello and we’ll sort you out with the details of the next meeting.

Venceremos

Peter Ó’Máille