New Brunswick-based visual arts publication CreatedHere is looking to increase subscriptions and donations in the face of ongoing funding challenges.
Arts-focused publications are in trouble. Earlier this fall, the national arts publication Canadian Art ended its 37 year run due to financial losses brought on by the arrival of COVID-19. Only six months after announcing the end of its print run and adapting the publication to a strictly online format, the magazine announced the end of all operations in October citing the loss of essential advertising and fundraising revenue. And now it appears New Brunswick’s own visual arts publication CreatedHere risks the real possibility of facing a similar fate.
“Our pathway to sustainability was quite clear in 2019, but many things changed as the pandemic took effect,” said Allison Green, the magazine’s editor and executive director. “With New Brunswick periodicals grants on hold for the last two years, and slow circulation growth impacting our eligibility for federal funding, we have not yet found a new source for stable operational support.”
CreatedHere launched as a non-profit organization and quarterly publication in 2019. Building upon the grassroots brand created by Marie-Hélène Morell in 2014, Green took on the magazine along with graphic designer Kerry Lawlor and photographer Hailley Fayle hoping to create a dedicated publication to celebrate and strengthen the province’s visual arts community.
“It was a case of perfect timing. When other creative commitments were pulling Marie-Hélène away from CreatedHere, we were looking to expand our art publication projects,” said Green.
“At that time, we were staff in the marketing department of the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design, and we proposed that we could do more within these roles to promote the art sector as a whole. The college saw the value of accelerating the development of CreatedHere, in particular to show the viability of arts careers and create publication opportunities for their graduates. They invited us to integrate the magazine’s operations into our roles and provided the resources to do so.”
Over the past three years NBCCD has served as both a collaborator and an essential funder for CreatedHere. In 2019, the college offered incubator support to the organization for a three-year term. In keeping with that agreement, staffing support ended this fall, and funding for printing and design services will end in September 2022.
“We have also received ongoing funding from the Sheila Hugh MacKay Foundation to pay fees to artists and writers,” said Green. “We have benefited from short-term wage subsidies through UNB and other sources to host student interns. The March 2022 issue will be produced by editor-in-residence Amy Ash, thanks to the support of artsnb.”
Today CreatedHere is truly the work of many hands. Green, Lawlor and Fayle work together with a board of directors and a province-wide network of contributors.
Green says everyone involved in the organization strongly believes in the benefit it brings to the province’s arts community.
“The quality of the publication has always been incredibly important to us, from the artwork to the photography to the words to the design to the printing,” she said. “We’ve seen how being featured in a print publication of this quality impacts the confidence of artists and provides them with fuel for their portfolios.
“New Brunswick artists should be known and valued both in-province and beyond our borders. Our mandate is to promote visual arts professionals by sharing success stories and career inspiration, increasing the reach of the artists and their work, giving arts writers a forum to develop their skills, and increasing public awareness of the impact of the art sector. These goals are made all the more important by the loss of our national arts publication, Canadian Art.”
On November 30, CreatedHere circulated a letter to its readership and subscriber list titled, Dear New Brunswick Arts Community. The communication outlined some of the challenges the organization is currently facing and the need for community support to help sustain the publication into the future. The need was clearly stated with the sentence, “CreatedHere needs, more than anything, a show of support from the community.”
The letter further outlined the organization’s need to increase subscribers in order to become eligible for federal funding. A call for donations was also included with this Giving Tuesday plea.
Green says the response has been encouraging, and if moving forward means adapting the magazine’s format to include a broader spectrum of arts coverage, the organization is willing to entertain those options.
“After announcing our need for support, we have seen an outpouring from the community, so we know the need is still there. We are thankful, humbled and encouraged by the response. We are keen to start conversations with other arts organizations in New Brunswick and the Atlantic provinces, seeking collaboration and perhaps even the possibility of joining forces. We are open to any and all possibilities that allow this important mandate to be pursued.”
There is no questioning the importance of publications like CreatedHere and the support they bring to new, emerging and established artists. But the challenges they face are real, and adapting existing models to survive can be a dangerous gamble.
“We no longer have paid staff,” said Green. “I am managing the publication as a volunteer to get us through this difficult moment, and so we have to consider that an end may be in sight.”