Christopher Butcher, Artistic Director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival writes to say,
We're sorry to announce that The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2020 (TCAF), scheduled for May 8, 9, and 10, has been cancelled. Our full statement is below. Thank you for your support of the Festival, and we look forward to returning when things are safe for our authors, publishers, and fans.
Dear fans and attendees of TCAF,
It is with great sadness that we announce that The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2020, scheduled to take place on May 8, 9, and 10, has been cancelled due to a host of factors resulting from the Covid-19 Global Pandemic.
The response within Canada and internationally has been progressing extremely rapidly, with significant protocol changes being made every single day. TCAF's team has spent the past two weeks interfacing with leaders in the comics community, TCAF partners, sponsors, venues, our Board of Directors, and health care officials, about the best way to move forward, and we have decided to cancel this year's festival based on that feedback, and due to the restrictions on travel and events, with no forecasted end to quarantine measures.
We want to say to the entire comics community: We tried very hard to make this work, as we're very aware of the financial and career necessity that TCAF has become for many working comic authors. At present, cancellation is the only ethical option.
All TCAF exhibitors will receive refunds for their tables, and they have been sent refund request information.
TCAF is committed to using our media and organizational resources to support all of our exhibitors, including those who had deferred or cancelled, however we can. We're currently putting together a media plan to promote exhibitors online beginning soon, and through TCAF's original May dates. We'll have more information next week.
We are also inviting collaboration and feedback from the comics community, with ideas on how we can work to promote and elevate creators. Online comic con? Hashtag? Store orders? We're brainstorming internally, and we're willing to work to build a larger coalition too. We're heartened by the efforts that have been made by other events and organizers on creators' behalf, and we want to contribute to and build on that. More details will come on twitter @torontocomics, and on our website at www.torontocomics.com.
The whole staff of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival is sorry to have to cancel this year. It has been an unprecedented time for the comics community. We've been humbled by your letters of support, and it was clear to us that creators, publishers, and readers were rooting for TCAF to happen. That makes this harder in so many ways, but it also makes it a lot easier too, knowing you have our back.
Our sincerest apologies, and our greatest thanks to you.
The staff of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Questions You Might Have:
Q: Why cancel the festival? Why not postpone?
While other shows announced postponement rather than cancellation, at this time we're not comfortable postponing because of the uncertainty around the duration of this pandemic. In addition, there are now multiple open-ended government orders around international travel and cancelling large gatherings, and that makes any postponement or possible rescheduling impossible.
Q: Is it possible for TCAF to be rescheduled later this year?
TCAF is a very complicated event, involving not just the front-facing festival, but a massive shipping and receiving infrastructure, international cooperation, the coordination and rental of multiple venues, and a small army of staff and volunteers. Ramping that up takes about 9 months, each year, and it's not really something we can press pause on for the next 2-3 months and easily resume. Our best estimate is that from the time quarantining measures are halted, it would take us 5 months to relaunch the festival.
Q: Does this mean Zineland Terrace, or Word Balloon Academy, or Library & Education Day are also cancelled?
All TCAF events and TCAF-partnership events are fully cancelled, including the three above and others. Some events have been announced, and may be a part of long-lead promotion and marketing and may still be out in the world, but all events are in fact cancelled.
Q: Is TCAF going to be okay?
The best answer that we can give you at this time is: We think so. TCAF's lead sponsor, The Beguiling, as well as our Festival shop, Page & Panel, have both had to close their doors temporarily due to the virus. There are also a lot of costs around the festival that may be unrecoverable. This will put a financial strain on the organization, but we're hopeful and we've had some amazing support from our granting bodies.
Q: What can I do to support TCAF?
TCAF is made up of many moving parts, with many people working on the festival as well as literally hundreds of working artists exhibiting. Right now the best way you can support TCAF is to support the artists that we work with. We'll try to make it easy for you to find them on social media, and we'll announce more plans soon. Follow us on twitter @torontocomics, or keep an eye on www.torontocomics.com.
If you'd like to directly sponsor TCAF or make a donation, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss first please.
Q: You didn't answer my question, how can I get in touch with you?
Please email email@example.com for anything that we may have missed in this letter. Please be patient with us if we don't get back to you right away. We're doing our best but the whole situation is just a bit overwhelming.