On Saturday we broke the news that the MoCCA Festival in New York and Stumptown in Portland, OR would share the same dates, April 28-29, as MoCCA had finalized their dates for the same weekend. Since then, all the participants have spoken out regarding the unfortunate timing.
MoCCA museum director Jack Walsh has just released a statement:
Next year our 2012 MoCCA Fest will fall on April 28-29, which of course also falls on the same weekend as Stumptown Comics Fest. For the last decade, both festivals have provided the opportunity to annually spotlight independent talent and alternative press exhibitors, with increasing success.
As many who have organized events can attest, it can be a difficult thing to get a venue in New York, or anywhere else, for that matter. I speak from personal experience, having coordinated the MoCCA Fest for the last two years from a volunteer capacity before signing on to the museum full-time. Ultimately, we needed to shift from our original tentative dates for MoCCA Fest 2012 to make it most attainable for our exhibitors and attendees. Was the change in dates unexpected? Definitely. Was it deliberately planned that way? Definitely not. Please keep in mind that even towards the very end of our negotiations, we still felt we would be able to keep our initial planned dates.
It is not, not would it ever be our intention to create a conflict of show dates, which benefits no one. Going forward, it is MoCCA’s intention to work directly with Stumptown to jointly address any questions that may arise from the overlap. You may be surprised with the solutions two coasts can come up with.
We do apologize if this puts a wrench into anyone’s plans to tour, exhibit, or attend both conventions– and we will work to address anyone’s concerns. To echo Indigo Kelleigh, unfortunate scheduling will not impact the quality of our Fest; you will still be able to expect great exhibitors, programming and attendance all weekend.
We look forward to seeing another banner year for both the MoCCA Fest and Stumptown Comic Fest next year, and thank you all for your support!
Stumptown director Indigo Kelleigh released a statement earlier in the week:
I just wanted to state for the record, that I know the difficulties in arranging for a venue for an event of this size, and more often than not our own final dates are dictated by the venue’s availability moreso than our desired schedule. I can’t assign any malice to this announcement on the part of the MoCCA organizers, and I hope nobody else does, either.
I do believe that there’s plenty of talent on both coasts, and further that this move will not harm either of the shows in the short term. For a show like Stumptown, which has only seen increased demand year after year, even last year in our move to a much larger exhibit space, I don’t believe this unfortunate scheduling will impact the quality of our Comics Fest in the slightest.
It is going to be a challenge for small press exhibitors, and obviously many will need to choose at which of the two shows to exhibit. Having two shows on the same weekend obviously removes one of them from many exhibitor’s schedules, and for those who rely on the convention circuit for income and promotional opportunities, this will clearly have an impact on their bottom line. To that end, we’re looking forward to working with the organizers of the MoCCA Art Fest to find ways to minimize that impact.
As both Walsh and Kelleigh indicate, in reality, only a handful of exhibitors could afford to attend both shows, no matter what week they were scheduled. (TCAF in Toronto is the very next week as well which either spreads out the cost of a tour or adds up, depending on who you ask.) We reached out to a few of the most prominent indy publishers for their reactions to the date overlap:
Peggy Burns, D&Q: “As we do not exhibit at Stumptown, we are less concerned with overlap of the dates, though Mocca’s one week proximity to our second biggest show of the year, TCAF, does have potential to cause some scheduling glitches for us, though it could also work out well for us with travelling artists. We have yet to look into it, as we feel that San Diego was just yesterday.”
Chris Staros, Top Shelf: “Yes, we’d do our best to exhibit at both, and since we have 1/2 the staff in Portland, some would stay back to do that, and the rest would head up to NY with me for MoCCA.”
Top Shelf is in a unique position, as co-publisher Brett Warnock is located in Portland, while Atlanta-based Staros does most of the East Coast shows.
Eric Reynolds, Fantagraphics: “I think it’s unfortunate that MoCCA, which as a nonprofit includes as part of its mission a desire to promote the understanding and appreciation of comic and cartoon art, would schedule it’s festival the same weekend as Stumptown, which carries a similar mission. We are probably one of the few publishers who might actually be able to attend both, given our proximity to Portland, but the bottom line is that MoCCA just made it much more difficult for Stumptown — a show entering a critical stage of its growth — to attract exhibitors. I don’t see how anyone in the alternative press benefits, and I don’t see how Stumptown specifically is anything but adversely affected. I doubt the dates was planned with malice, but it’s still disappointing and unfortunate.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.