This morning, Irish Theatre Magazine published the following press release;
At the start of the year, Irish Theatre Magazine received news that the Arts Council would not offer funding to the magazine for 2014. Following a subsequent meeting with the Arts Council to discuss the implications of that decision, ITM must suspend publishing new content.
ITM has benefited from Arts Council financial support since 1999, soon after it first began publishing. The withdrawal of funding now follows a series of cuts to ITM and significant changes to the publication itself. Since becoming an online-only publication in 2009, ITM has been reliant on the Arts Council to fund the operation, with the loss of cover price, subscriptions and advertising revenues. The magazine’s priorities are now to safeguard its archive, ensuring that it remains publicly available, and to seek funding to enable the publication of cultural criticism at a future date.
ITM first began publishing in 1998, when its founders Karen Fricker and Willie White discerned that “there has not yet been an appropriate response in print to the current explosion of energy in Irish theatre”.
“Over the course of 16 years, three previous editors – Karen Fricker, Helen Meany and Caroline Williams – hundreds of contributors and thousands of in-depth reviews, features and reports, ITM has established itself as a forum for informed engagement with theatre, dance and opera,” said Acting Editor, Peter Crawley. “It is the only publication committed to comprehensive coverage of professional theatre in Ireland, North and South, and it has relied on the passion of its writers and the sustained interest of its readers to respond to the changing stages of Irish theatre.”
One consequence of the magazine’s absence will mean that many smaller and emerging companies throughout the country will receive no professional critical response, as the space for serious criticism in other media continues to shrink.
“This is a challenging time for the artists we write about. This is also a challenging time for former print media – from niche magazines to mainstream newspapers – as we struggle to find ways to fund good journalism and ensure high standards of criticism in an age when content is expected to be free and traditional revenue streams have been eroded,” said Peter Crawley.
ITM plans to continue to serve as a resource for readers and audiences, fans and researchers. With enough good will and support, we aim to maintain a presence here, albeit reduced. It is in nobody’s interest to let the light go completely out.
We would like to thank our staff, past and present, our contributors, our board, our readers and the artists and performers whose work has challenged and nourished us.
Although the news doesn’t come as a huge shock due to the magazine’s gradual demise in reviews and features, it is still with great sadness to see such a prestigious organisation be victim to funding cuts. Despite ITM publishing no new content, I have no doubt that it can establish itself as a valuable digital archive for future theatre scholars and researchers and continue to be an invaluable resource to theatre in Ireland.