by Eugene Byrne
Staff and freelance contributors were told yesterday that Venue, Bristol and Bath’s what’s on magazine, is likely to close with the publication of issue 962 on March 16.
The twin causes of this are declining sales and – much more important – a catastrophic falling-off in advertising revenue in recent months.
Since the word got out about the planned closure, the local Twittersphere has been full of messages of support and dismay. Thanks for all the Twitterlove, people.
As of this point, the situation is not completely hopeless. There is still time for a rescue plan, and it does no harm, should you be so inclined, to show your appreciation for this great local institution, by buying the odd Venue or two.
FWIW I don’t blame the parent company, Bristol News and Media (who also own the Evening Post), for any of this. Since buying Venue ten years ago they have been very supportive and have never interfered editorially. Obviously they and their parent firm, Northcliffe Newspaper Group, are a big, clueless company who think they can only do business by assuming their staff and customers are not very bright. They never really had the brains or the imagination to make the most of the asset they had in Venue, but they have been fair.
For my own part, I’m saddened, but not altogether surprised, given the state of the economy. If any of this is anyone’s fault, it’s the Coalition government, whose cuts have had both direct and indirect effects on revenues and on the fortunes and the confidence of the small local businesses who are the mainstay of Venue’s advertisers.
I’ve been involved with Venue since shortly after it started (1982), though never full-time.
It has been the most enormous fun, and a huge privilege to work with so many clever, funny, brilliant people. It’s been an even bigger privilege to think that we made a small difference to Bristol in millions of little ways, whether in promoting local artists, helping new arrivals find social lives and just generally, y’know, being part of that unique Bristol vibe.
This, I hope, is not yet the end of the story. Every city needs a Venue mag, or something like it, and something might – I only said might – yet rise from the ashes. Watch this space.
And buy the next few editions. Collectors’ items.