by Ryan Ming
In 2009 a group of musicians formed The Safe Amplification Society, a non-profit, volunteer-run community organization that produces legal and financially viable all-ages music and arts events in Vancouver. The issue of a dedicated all-ages venue has been long sought after, as many venues that hosted all-ages music events have shut down over the years—mostly due to bylaw infractions or lack of funds. Currently, Safe Amp operates out of Astorino’s Hall on Venables Street and Commercial Drive.
The organizers of the zine library component of Safe Amp—Board Member Marita Michaelis-Webb, Kaitlyn MacMillan and Chavi Alvarez— were on hand to discuss their latest project at the organization’s recent Zine Fair & Show Fundraiser.
Project Space: What inspired you to start a zine library component of Safe Amp?
Chavi Alvarez: We wanted to add more to the DIY component of Safe Amp and to the sharing and educating of people who come to our shows. Also, because it is a dry venue, people do tend to feel awkward sometimes between bands or before bands start because they’re used to drinking at shows. I have social anxiety and sometimes I feel awkward at shows even if I am drinking. Having a zine library in the corner that people can go to while they’re waiting for a friend or if they’re feeling awkward to read about stuff and calm down is good.
PS: Will this library be a permanent fixture or mobile?
Kaitlyn MacMillan: It’s going to be a permanent fixture in Safe Amp, wherever our venue happens to be. We’re not going to have Astorino’s forever. It’s going to be around now at every show for everyone to peruse through and read. And there’s no take homes obviously.
PS: How big do you expect the library to get?
Marita Michaelis-Webb: In terms of how many zines we anticipate, I don’t know.
KM: The possibilities are endless.
MM: It could go on forever! It’s starting to grow but it had humble beginnings. I think there are a lot of people in the community that have knowledge, resources and zines that they made or found elsewhere. People generally tend to be pretty generous. So hopefully it will continue to grow and grow.
PS: Does Safe Amp have any future plans to do its own in-house publications?
MM: We don’t at this moment have any specific plans. Safe Amp is member-run and driven. So if there was anybody who was a part of Safe Amp—and anybody can join—who was interested in doing it on behalf of the society, then they could totally take that on. So it depends on if there’s the energy or desire or passion to do something like that. I’m open to the idea and I would love for something like that to happen, but at this point there’s no real plans.
PS: Will the Safe Amp zine library have any workshops?
CA: Currently, as we’re operating out of Astorino’s, we do not, but at our future dream venue we would love to have workshops.
MM: We’ve hosted a zine-making workshop in the past as part of our Space Camp event. Also, we did one in conjunction with the Vancouver Public Library. We would love to do something like that again.
PS: What benefits to the community will the zine library bring?
KA: In the zine library we’re going to have zines under tons of topics, ranging from how to fix your bicycle to DIY, political zines, gardening—there’s going to be something for everyone to check out. It’s going to be a good place for people to come in and gain some knowledge. Share some of their knowledge. Learn new things. It will be good for the community in that way.
PS: What challenges are you facing?
MM: The of challenge of space. We don’t have Astorino’s 24/7. We rent it from Britannia, the community centre. So we’re just open during the times we have shows. Ideally it would be open all day. Funding is another challenge. So tonight we’re hosting a fundraiser and the proceeds will go toward purchasing zines, postage, printing and building an actual structure to hold the zines.
Also connected to lack of funds, this is all volunteer run, so everyone’s putting in their own free time to keep it going. Another challenge is people getting burnt out and not having enough energy to do all that we want to do. We need more people, funds and space.
PS: How can people donate zines?
MM: If your zine is online you can send the file to [email protected]. If you want to bring a physical copy you can bring it to the door at any of Safe Amp’s events at Astorino’s.