Chicago Zine Fest is a celebration of small press and independent publishers, with an annual festival of workshops and the big expo day where 100+ zinesters sell and trade their zines. All our events are free and open to the public.
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We know it’s been a hard time for those of us who are still Covid cautious, as U.S. society at large seems hellbent on ignoring the illness and death around us. We also know that our decision to make masks “strongly recommended” (instead of required) hurt some people in our community. We’re truly sorry for that. We know that decision reinforced valid feelings of isolation, sadness, and frustration.
We thought long and hard about our decision not to announce that masking would be required. Because we recognize the very real risks of Covid, we think the worst thing we could do would be to promise a “masks required” environment and not have the appropriate capacity and structures in place to enforce that policy. As we announced earlier, we’ll have masks freely available to everyone and encourage mask wearing, and we’re looking into other mitigation strategies like renting air filters. But the truth is, we don’t believe we can make Plumbers Hall a safe space for immunocompromised people.
That’s part of why we likely won’t be hosting CZF at Plumbers Hall after 2023, although we’ve enjoyed working with them and hosting events in that beautiful space. We were contractually obligated to host CZF 2023 at Plumbers Hall, or we would lose our deposit of thousands of dollars. But in the past few years, we’ve been rethinking what CZF will look like in the future, and we’ve started to talk about planning smaller, more frequent, more focused events taking the place of a once-a-year Fest. With smaller events in smaller spaces, it would be much more likely that we can institute a “masks required” policy, or host events outside or in well-ventilated spaces.
If you’d be interested in helping build this new vision of CZF, consider joining us as a volunteer. We know this statement won’t make everyone happy (we miss feeling safe at big fests too!), but we think it’s the best way to plan for a Chicago Zine Fest that is inclusive of everyone in our community and remains sustainable long into the future.
We’re happy for your feedback; please email us at email@example.com with your thoughts.