Dear zinesters, zine fans and DIY persons,
It's the SFZFiest time of the year! The 14th annual San Francisco Zine Fest returns to the Golden Gate Park's County Fair Building on Sunday, September 6.
Fourteen years in, SFZF has become one of the few constants in our city. And like every year, your faithful SFZF organizing team has made tweaks and adjustments to how we run things, to best serve and represent the diverse creative community we come from.
First things first: this year, for the first time in a long time, SFZF 2015 is a one-day event (Sunday, September 6, 2015 ahem ahem) instead of the usual two. This is a financially driven decision; every year, our biggest budget expenditure by far is event space rent, and rent in SF isn't getting cheaper. (Relatedly, 90% of this year's organizing team no longer lives in San Francisco.) (flying-money-emoji.)
We’ve talked with some of y’all about this already. Some exhibitors are bummed to lose that second day, and others, especially our exhibitors who rely on public transportation, say one day is actually easier on their wallets and mental health. Both are good answers! Rest assured we’re keeping a close eye on how this decision affects the vibe of the fest. In the meantime, we’re passing the savings on to you — you our exhibitors, you our attendees, you our DIY arts community. Like so:
Tables are way cheaper this year. Half tables, which used to be $65, are only $35 this year. That means more people can afford to exhibit, especially newcomers who are generally less able to take that first-time risk.
We're actually paying our panelists. This is one of the things about SFZF that we've wanted to fix for years, since the DIY community is established on the principle that all voices deserve a place in front of an audience. With the rent money we saved this year by reducing to one day, we've allotted travel stipends for our panelists and speakers, helping ensure that nobody is kept from speaking for lack of funds. We were also able to pay our guest of honor, Madeleine Flores, to design our EXTREMELY excellent poster! (be sure to pick up your print at the Fest!)
What else is new? Two things you may have noticed: one, we're a 'curated' fest this year, and two, to be as inclusive as possible, we’ve defaulted all individual exhibitors to a half-table. This is the first year that SFZF hasn't done ‘first-come’ tables for exhibitors, i.e. whoever clicks the button the fastest gets a slot until all the tables are taken. Why change? The first-come system is 'impartial’ at first glance, but undeniably benefits folks who are already in the know and who have ready access to the internet. It's less effort for us organizers! But we want the BEST fest, not the easiest; we want to guarantee, as much as possible, an event that's safe and welcoming for new folks and old friends alike, and that looks like the diverse Bay Area arts community that we know and love and to which we owe so much.
Because this is our first year for this new selection system, we've also placed nearly ALL individual artists at half-tables, with our very few full tables going to collectives and distros. You'll notice that our table map this year is JAM-PACKED (over 200 different exhibitors to check out)! We hope that the influx of new creators will help you find your new favorite artist, collaborator or friend!
So what hasn't changed? The SFZF zine library will be present for your browsing and chilling pleasure. We still have our safer spaces policy. We still have our pre-fest reading at the Cartoon Art Museum (Friday, September 4th, which will likely be the last event at CAM's current space), and our pre-party at Mission: Comics on September 5. And some of our exhibitors are running their own new ziney event, Oakland Creates, on the other side of the Bay on September 5 — check it out!
One thing that we WISH was different, but which is unchanged, is that we do not have gender-neutral restrooms at the County Fair Building for SFZF. We approached the Parks Department with our request to make the bathrooms gender-neutral for the duration of our event and were denied (based on their pre-existing policy, to be clear; every single Parks staffer we talked to was sympathetic and apologetic). Since we can’t guarantee or enforce the restrooms as a gender-neutral space, we cannot in good conscience label them as such. Therefore: we ask y'all to mind your own business and respect everyone's bathroom choices. Shouldn't be difficult.
In relatedly poopy news: if you’re coming from the East Bay, please remember that trans-Bay BART will not be running during Labor Day weekend! Ugh! This was announced months after we'd confirmed and paid for our venue; such is life, and BART isn't the only way across the Bay. We don’t have the capacity to organize a formal SFZF rideshare program, but if you have wheels and a spare seat and will be coming from the East Bay, we strongly encourage you to drop a note on the SFZF2015 Facebook event page so other folks can contact you. Remember, it’s Sunday, so street parking is free!
With all this in mind: we're looking for a new venue for 2016. The County Fair Building has served us well for years! But rising rent and restroom conflicts, coupled with longstanding issues with geographic accessibility, all mean it's getting time to move on. We're looking for someplace big, cheap(ish), ADA-compliant, cool with gender-neutral bathrooms, and close to BART. Got a lead? Drop us a line!
One more thing: because this event ultimately belongs to the community, we'll be sending out a post-Fest survey to all exhibitors asking y'all what worked and what could be even better. Look for this in your inboxes by the end of SFZF Weekend (aka Labor Day Weekend). We hope you’ll take a few minutes to help make this event stand strong for another fourteen years and beyond!
See you on September 6!
Liz Mayorga, SFZF executive director
& the SFZF2015 organizing team
Emily Alden Foster