A Review of English-language Magazines in Wales

12 Jul 2013

Following the commissioning of a review of English-language magazines in Wales, members of the Welsh Books Council’s English-language Publishing Grants Panel were given an opportunity to discuss the report in their most recent meeting.

The report has been prepared by a panel of independent experts chaired by Tony Bianchi, a former Literature Director, Arts Council Wales, who has extensive knowledge of the magazine market in Wales. He was assisted by Tim Holmes, of Cardiff University's School of Journalism and Alex Clark, former editor of Granta magazine and a contributing editor to the Observer magazine.

To supplement the survey, the Welsh Books Council has received a report from the market research company Wavehill, which focuses on readers’ responses to current provision and examines their views on the type of magazines they would like to see published.

"We were very aware of the role of Wales’ English-language magazines in discussing issues from a Welsh perspective and in giving due consideration to our culture in an international context," said Professor M. Wynn Thomas, Chairman of the Welsh Books Council and Chair of the English-language Publishing Grants Panel. "While the Council was keen to protect financial support for the magazine sector it was considered appropriate to conduct a survey of the area to ensure that our schemes continue to enable a wide range of good-quality magazines to be published and that the provision offered responds to the demands of readers in order to reach the widest possible audience. As a publicly-funded body we also have a responsibility to ensure value for money within our grants system."

From now on, grants for English-language magazines will be offered for a period of four years instead of the current three-year period, thereby offering a longer period of stability in difficult economic circumstances and giving brand new ventures time to prove themselves. It was further agreed to establish four main areas for support:

Developing new magazines

Seed funding will support new, innovative initiatives. Grants will be offered for one term only of the funding period (four years) with the opportunity to apply for the main funds in the future. We very much hope that this fund will attract new entrants to the field with exciting ideas which will target new audiences.

Funding for a broad range of subjects

Funding will be provided for magazines with the emphasis on good writing and sharp journalism that could span a number of areas including current affairs, politics, history, economics, the arts, culture (including popular culture), media, the environment, sport and leisure.

Supporting literature

In recognition of the importance of protecting the provision for literature and supporting a strong reviewing culture, funding will be available for magazines that focus on one specific area or a combination of areas that could include short fiction, poetry, literary criticism and the field of creative non-fiction.

Training

A small amount will also be allocated to provide training in areas such as digital publishing, managing small businesses and marketing for successful magazines.

All applicants will need to demonstrate value for money, opportunities to attract new funding and plans to expand readerships. They will also be encouraged to develop digital content, and attract new readers in this way, though it will still be possible for readers to enjoy their magazines in print. Neither general nor literary magazines will receive more than two thirds of their total income in grant money.

The Council recognises that applicants will need reasonable time to prepare strong applications under the new system and therefore the invitation to submit applications will be advertised in the summer of 2014 with the new franchises coming into effect in April 2015.

"While we are eager to protect funding for English-language magazines in Wales we must also ensure that both readers and the Government are given value for money," added Professor Thomas. "And while we are aware that the new structure poses significant challenges for the sector we feel that it lays down a firm foundation for the future."

A copy of the report can be seen here – http://www.cllc.org.uk/ni-us/cyhoeddiadau-publications/ymchwil-research

Gwales

Books from Wales on-line

gwales.com