By H.G. Watson, Associate Editor
If Briarpatch magazine doesn’t raise $15,000 by July 30, it may have to cease publishing.
On June 22, the 43-year-old politics and culture magazine based in Regina, Saskatchewan, announced that it was fundraising to help cover a shortfall that has left editor Tanya Andrusieczko and publisher Rhiannon Ward uncertain about Briarpatch’s future.
“This is definitely part of a crisis,” said Andrusieczko, who added that there is only enough money in the bank to cover one more print run in advance. “We don’t have the kind of cushion that can really help us sustain ourselves.”
Subscriptions to the bi-monthly magazine have been steadily declining for some time, something Andrusieczko attributes partly to industry trends. However, Briarpatch seemed particularly hard hit. Before they started their fundraising drive, about 1,300 people were subscribers to the magazine, which offers a one-year subscription for $29.95. Costs of production have also risen.
Andrusieczko would not provide details on its current debts. However, she did say that $15,000 would cover outstanding invoices as well as helping to restructure and increasing payments for contributors. “We were hearing a lot from freelance artists and writers that the rates that we were offering just weren’t cutting it.”
Part of the magazine’s politics is that it is “in the corner of labour.” For that reason it’s important to Andrusieczko that it pay contributors a livable wage.
The magazine currently operates with a budget of $148,000 a year, which covers salaries for Andrusieczko and Ward, office space, printing, distribution, and payments to writers and artists.
Fortunately for Briarpatch’s small team, the response to the fundraiser has already been positive. Within about 36 hours, it reached the halfway point of its fundraising campaign. On June 27, it announced it had raised $10,910—just a few thousand dollars short of it goal. Andrusieczko said they have also reached about 1,400 subscribers.
Should it reach its target, Andrusieczko said it will not only patch up their funding holes, but start working on restructuring its funding model. She is already looking at applying for some grants that will help it increase and track its web presence. “It’s really important for us to be able to share the stories that we are publishing more widely.”
“The hope is that we raise enough money in order to really get on our feet in a way that’s going to let us plan for a more sustainable future,” Andrusieczko said.
Update, July 8, 2016: On July 6, Andrusieczko and Ward announced they had met and surpassed their fundraising target.
Disclosure: J-Source editor-in-chief Patricia Elliott is a sustaining subscriber to Briarpatch. She was not involved in assigning or editing this story, which was edited by J-Source publisher Christopher Waddell.