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While we’re all hoping that life will regain some normalcy by September, the Small Press Expo (SPX) is already announcing contingency plans for the festival, planned for Sept. 13-14 in Bethesda, MD.

The exhibitor lottery and Ignatz Award submissions were to begin this month, and both will go on as planned, but digital submissions for the Eisner will be allowed and exhibitor payment will be deferred until the status of the show is resolved. The status of the show will be reviewed in late May/early June when some think the COVID-19 virus will have peaked, if social distancing measures work.

Organizers sent out an email this afternoon with details which you can read below:

SPX 2020 is scheduled to be held this coming September 12 – 13, with both Exhibitor Registration and Ignatz Submissions beginning this month. We are extremely concerned about the short- and long-term impacts of the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis on the SPX community.
While developing this course of action, our goal was to prioritize the physical and financial well-being of the community.
The following is how SPX will be handling the coronavirus issue going forward:
  • SPX will review the status of our 2020 event in late May/early June
  • Exhibitor invitations and the lottery will proceed the weekend of March 22
  • Table payments will be deferred until more clarity about the show emerges late May/early June
  • Ignatz Award submissions will temporarily shift to a digital format, details will be released the weekend of March 29, after which we will then accept submissions
  • SPX will provide online resources to help the comics community cope with financial and other impacts of the outbreak.
In response, SPX will take several immediate steps out of a desire to, as best we are able, protect our exhibitors and our volunteer staff. The SPX planning committee will continue to monitor the national and international impact of the spread of the coronavirus/COVID-19 and act accordingly.
General Status of SPX 2020
SPX does not expect to make a determination about proceeding with, postponing, or, in the worst case, canceling this September’s SPX 2020 until late May/early June. In the interim, SPX will proceed with our regular schedule for exhibitor registration, including the annual exhibitor lottery. SPX 2020 invitation and lottery information will be released the weekend of March 22.
Deferred Exhibitor Payments
While exhibitor registration will take place as normal in the coming weeks, SPX will defer table and badge payment until at least the late May/early June timeframe. We understand that the many event and freelance job cancellations currently taking place have placed a substantial and unexpected burden on creators and publishers. 
By shifting our payment schedule by several months, SPX hopes to help alleviate, where we can, the short-term burden of this crisis upon the indie comics community by not tying up crucial funds at this sensitive time and not requesting any payment until the status of the 2020 Expo is confirmed.
Digital Submissions for the Ignatz Awards
Full details on the Ignatz submission process will be made available the weekend of March 29.
Prior to this information being made available, please do not send any Ignatz submissions to SPX.
Given the recently reported likelihood that coronavirus/COVID-19 can remain active on cardboard and other surfaces for several days at a time and in order to protect our volunteer staff, who in a typical year process hundreds of submissions from all over the world, SPX will be moving temporarily to a digital submission process.
In previous years, potential Ignatz nominees were asked to submit six physical copies of their works to be distributed to the Ignatz Jurors, with one copy being preserved in the SPX permanent collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. For the 2020 Ignatz awards, SPX will request digital copies of all submissions, along with an optional single physical copy earmarked for the Library of Congress. 
Along with curtailing the potential spread of infection, the shift to digital submission will, we hope, also reduce the financial burden during this uncertain time on individual creators who wish to submit their works for consideration.
Online Resources for the SPX Community
Part of the Small Press Expo’s mission is to help, as best we can, the SPX Community in uncertain times such as these. To that end, SPX has identified some online resources that contain information about various grants, relief funds and other mechanisms to hopefully aid the SPX Community in weathering the current circumstances:

In addition to being one of the biggest selling shows of the year for indie creators, the Small Press Expo is  an important part of the comics community; their speedy response to this crisis should be a model for all.

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