Quill & Quire
Litmags threatened by new funding guidelines
February 20, 2009 | 6:34 PM | By Stuart Woods
The Harper Tories have promised to maintain existing funding levels for
the countrys magazine industry ($75.5-million annually), but guidelines
announced this week for the new Canada Periodical Fund could put Canadas
small-run literary magazines in jeopardy.
The new Canadian Heritage-run program merges two other federal funding
bodies the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program in
an effort to streamline operations and tie support of the periodical
sector to the reading choices of Canadians. This new system wont become a
reality until at least 2010, but when it does, funds will be allocated
using a formula based on paid circulation, and magazines with less than
5,000 annual subscribers will be shut out altogether.
The new formula would be a huge blow to the small number of literary
publishers that depend on Heritage to survive, including
respected journals such as The Literary Review of Canada, The Malahat
Review, and Matrix, which have typically received annual subsidies ranging
from about $15,000 to $20,000. As it currently stands, the minimum
circulation requirement would exclude pretty much every literary and arts
magazine in the country, says editor Andris Taskans, whose Winnipeg
quarterly Prairie Fire relies on Heritage money for a significant portion
of its operating budget and about half of its postage costs.
Taskans says the new guidelines are a deliberate slap in the face to small
magazines, and that he would like to see the special status of literary
magazines restored. Says Matrix editor-in-chief Jon Paul Fiorentino, whose
magazine has published early works by authors like Heather ONeill and
Pasha Malla, Theres value to what we do beyond the number of readers we
get per issue.
According to the Canadian Heritage release, the department is still
finalizing the guidelines, so theres still room to have them
revised, if not removed completely. People have to be realistic that there
will be some form of minimum,says Mark Jamison, CEO of the trade group
Magazines Canada, so the question is, how do we manage a specific
challenge for a very specialized sector?
Jamison believes theres reasonable hope that Heritage will ease its
restriction on small magazines if the literary community succeeds in
bringing its message to Ottawa.