Venue – what you can do


Had to go to Plymouth today (the National Marine Aquarium is overrated, if you ask me; a visit to our own local Bristol Aquarium is better, and spares you the two-hour drive down the tramp’s heartbreak that is the M5) and switched off the phone to temporarily escape the madness of the last 36 hours.

Returned to overwhelming number of phone messages, emails, Tweets etc. expressing shock, sympathy and support re planned closure of Venue. Hope everyone understands it’ll take a while to reply to all.

As we’re all saying, the closure is not necessarily a done deal. It might be saved in its present form, and if not, there is at least one completely serious and, in my humble, financially viable, plan for a successor.

In the meantime, lots of people are asking what they can do. Here are some suggestions:

There’s a SAVE VENUE MAGAZINE group on Facebook. Like it.

You can follow SaveVenue on Twitter, and Tweet messages of support with the #savevenue hashtag.

Here is a message from Venue editor Joe Spurgeon. Please pass it on to friends, relatives and even people you don’t like:

Venue faces closure

If you follow the local news, blogging world, Twitter or indulge in the odd spot of pub gossip, you may have heard that we are facing closure. This is true. A relatively small decline in readership coupled with a thundering decline in ad revenue has meant that what we do is no longer sustainable. We are looking at solutions and rescue packages. There might be a way. But we need your help. If you’ve ever read anything you like in Venue, used it to pick a film to see, gig to go to, restaurant to treat your mum in, we need you to go and buy a copy of the magazine. Now. Then tell your friends to do the same. And your work colleagues. Let us know via whether you think Bristol and Bath need an intelligent what’s on, arts and cultural magazine. Tell us what you think about us going. Tell us your Venue memories. Tell us anything. If we have any chance of surviving, we’ll need every word.

Joe Spurgeon, Editor

Thank you all for your support so far, and like the man says, buy the mag. It’s not an empty gesture at all; it’s proof to existing owners or future backers that there’s life in the old dog yet.

Just a couple of observations (which are mine alone and don’t reflect anyone else’s policies or plans):

I profoundly and utterly disagree with the almost-conventional wisdom that print is dying. Regional newspapers are faced with apparently inexorable decline, but magazines are not the same at all. There are plenty of magazines doing very well at the moment.

Anyone can compile what’s on information and give it away for free on the web, but people also want informed comment, features and interviews on the local cultural & entertainments scene. And where necessary, it needs to be set in wider social and political context. There is a handful of good local bloggers covering various aspects of local life, but only Venue can do the whole picture.

A print publication, which might only be fortnightly or monthly, is still required. It’s needed as part of a mix which might also include a website, smartphone apps, online subscription services and whatever other opportunities emerging technologies present.

If you build it, if you know what you’re talking about, if you are passionate and committed to what you’re doing, if you’re determined to embed yourself in the community and if you’re not just trying to screw readers and advertisers for as much cash as possible … If you can do all these things, they will come.

I’m sure I speak for all the rest of the Venue crew when I say that the end of today has left us all feeling a lot more optimistic.




9 Responses to “Venue – what you can do”

  1. 1 Julian Owen

    I second the motion. Top to tail. PARTICULARLY print not dead. Today, print is so alive it’s veritably sprinting out of seemingly every shop in the twin cities. Optimism indeed.

  2. 2 Tom Phillips

    You certainly speak for me, old chum. As part of the ongoing campaign, reversing the myth that print is dying would be a service not only to ourselves but to many others. Thing is, people read more now than they’ve ever done (even if a large part of that reading is made up of emails, texts etc) – they just don’t realise it. Or that there’s something wholly satisfying about reading words which are actually imprinted on paper, as opposed to those which joggle about in the cybersphere. The poetry world realised this a couple of years ago – the web offers great potential… for unutterably bollocks to be disseminated blanket-style all over. No surprise that the likes of sturdy indie publishers like Salt are now coming back into fashion: if you want quality you’ve got to pay. No coincidence either, perhaps, that their ‘buy one book’ campaign worked – or that we seem to be having similar success with ‘buy a copy of Venue’. We need, perhaps, to adopt the tactics of the small presses.

  3. Just a thought (and please don’t think that I’m implying you haven’t thought of this, far from it – just trying to think how I could help) – since it sounds from the message from Joe you’ve quoted above that the big problem is loss of ad revenue rather than readership revenue, then an exercise to engage those of us with small independent Bristol businesses (suited to your readership) and find out how we can all affordably contribute (with longer term options to bring regular, committed income throughout the year & help cash flow) seems like a good option to expend serious energies on?

    I’m sure I speak for many one-man-bands & small, ethical outfits that Venue is just where we need to be, but our marketing budgets our miniscule & many of us just try & rely on pr and in-house (ie. DIY) promotion via websites & facebook. It’s also hard to know, when you’re small, when, where & how often to take out an ad. Maybe it’s possible to create some kind of new annual package that’s affordable for us, relevant to your readership, and, in numbers, creates a real income for Venue?

    Plus, how can the readership get on board with actually making it a great place to advertise? With the success (& raking in of cash) by Groupon, maybe there’s a win-win-win way forward setting up something like that (time-limited discount voucher which offers the readers a great discount, paid for in advance, and revenue shared between Venue & retailer / service provider) but within the pages of Venue and at less of a ridiculous cost to the provider than Groupon?

    I don’t mean to imply that you haven’t got a great team who’s been looking at all this, but if you’ve had a dive in revenue then whatever great ideas you have had, the reality is they’re not working – maybe there’s a way to get Venue staff & potential advertisers & readership reps together to work it out from all sides, so you get steady income, we get active responses from the readership, and readers get a good deal from local businesses.

    I’m interested, if it’s something people at Venue feel is worth looking at …

  4. Well said, from start to finish! And after buying one copy of Venue, what about buying a subscription?

  5. 5 Harry Mottram

    As you say – print is not dead, it’s just changing. Long live Venue.

  6. Is there a web link you can post to enable people to sign up for an annual subscription for Venue? It’s one of those things I always intend to do but never quite get around to doing… If we can register online we can also send the link around and get a whole bunch of people to take an annual subscription (rather than just one copy). My first ever job was writing at Venue magazine – I remember those days with great fondness – still one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done (well – maybe not financially…!)

  7. 8 John Miller

    I would just like to add my support. I have enjoyed, and subscribed to, Venue for all of its life, and it has guided and grown my love for Bristol and Bath and their music, pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas etc. etc.

    I am sure that, whilst my iPad is great for reading this blog and writing this, print is still the best medium for catching the attention in a listings magazine, as well as attracting me to read articles I might not otherwise have done.

    Don’t ever give up!

  8. 9 thebristolblogger

    Am I alone in thinking that since Venue went weekly editorial quality has fallen off a cliff?

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