Chris Butcher has announced that he has stepped down as the Artistic Director for TCAF, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Butcher cites his need to address his “persistent health and wellness issues” that he has neglected.
Butcher has also addressed criticism towards the festival and organization. They have been criticized for a lack of diversity in input and staff from BIPOC, disabled individuals, and trans people. They organization has admitted it can “do better.” There are also charges that those who have spoken up and attempted to volunteer to help the organization have had their input dismissed. And, when they were engaged not given the support needed and then blamed when those tasks aren’t completed.
Simply put, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF)—whose leadership currently lacks Black or Indigenous representation —can do better.
Butcher acknowledges the criticism and in his announcement takes responsibility in the role he “played in devaluing the contributions of members of staff and volunteers.” Part of his stepping away is for himself to “be better.”
TCAF late in June put out a statement in late June concerning conduct and harassment in the comics industry as well as a commitment to ending anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. The organization acknowledges it has a role in supporting diversity in the field and has made a commitment to do so.
We’ll see what steps the festival and organization takes in the coming months and years as they’ve committed this is an ongoing project that they are dedicating themselves to.
TCAF is a comics festival that’s free to attend. It’s a week of comics-related events that includes readings, presentations, panels, gallery shows, and an exhibition area featuring publishers, authors, and artists. It was co-founded by Chris Butcher and Peter Mirkemoe with the first held on March 29, 2003. The show has grown from the original 600 attendees with 25 staff, and 780 creators to over 25,000 individuals in 2016.
(via The Beat)