The Tasmanian-based not-for-profit Island Magazine will likely cease following a failure to win a renewal of its four-year funding arrangement with Arts Tasmania.
Established in 1979, Island Magazine is a print-only literary quarterly of essays, short stories, poetry and art from Australian and international new, emerging and established writers. It is currently printing its 158th edition, and has published more than 1,900 writers across its forty years of publication.
In a statement on the Island Magazine website, Island Magazine Chair Geoff Heriot said that the funding had underpinned the magazine’s financial viability.
“Before taking a decision to suspend operations, which is a likely result, we have accepted an invitation from Arts Tasmania to meet and review the situation. We appreciate the department’s gesture and its acknowledgment of Island’s contribution to Tasmania over the past 40 years. We also acknowledge that, under the government’s peer review system, all funding applicants participate in a highly competitive process,” said Heriot.
Heriot went on to state that, since its successful 2015 funding submission, average subscriber numbers of Island Magazine have almost tripled and total sales have grown to “compare well with comparable Australian publications”.
“To maintain that quality print model, we have depended on government grants for about half of the magazine’s operational budget, along with earned income (sales, advertising, etc) and some philanthropic grants,” said Heriot.
“That mix has become more challenging to maintain, not least since budget cuts to the Australia Council, which have resulted in even more intense competition among small arts organisations bidding for grants.”
In March 2019, Island Magazine has maintained its publishing activities by reducing its cost base and benefiting from reader donations and grants. Its part-time staff and contractors have also contributed unpaid days and weeks.