Well, the sagging economy has finally caught up with us. Well, it caught up with us a few years ago, but we just kept hoping things would get better by now and still hope they will in the near future, but for now, we are no longer printing the paper. We didn’t want to say anything about this to our readers before Christmas – we didn’t want to be a piece of coal in anyone’s stocking.
Linda and I have used every resource available to us to keep the paper going, and we want to thank all our loyal advertisers who have stood by us, those who still are, as well as Tri-State Printing, our printer, which has been at our side supporting us for a number of years. But, we just did not get enough ads to pay all the bills – so we are taking the paper online until we can get back to printing the paper – if not in its original form, in some form that best serves the Carolina visual art community and is profitable.
This was a hard decision to make, but we have dug a hole for ourselves and it will take some time to crawl out – which I hope we will with the help of people who are still willing to support our efforts. I’m also looking for a part time job.
This isn’t the first time we have suspended printing of the paper in our 23 year history. After Hurricane Hugo struck the Charleston area in 1989, we just kept on going like nothing had happened but, within a few months we found out differently – it would take almost a year for the art community to recover. When we came back we were stronger than ever. Before the end of the 90′s we had expanded throughout South Carolina and across the border into North Carolina. Eventually we went with a color cover for almost three years before the economy took a dive putting us back – in black & white. So change is always just around the corner.
But, before I move on to the future, I just want to say – if there are any individuals, groups, or angels out there who would like to help us out of that hole – please get in touch with us.
So what about the future?
Well, right off during the month of January there are going to be a lot of folks in shock when they go looking for a copy of Carolina Arts where they used to find them. For some, they will think – well, that’s the end of Carolina Arts. A few might even think – good riddance. We’re hoping most of these folks will go to our website – where they have found our online version of the paper for over 11 years to see what’s up.
Hopefully the word will spread that Carolina Arts is not dead, but living online. Hopefully readers, artists, gallery owners, arts organizations, art museums, and all sorts of followers will be talking about our new and improved online version of the paper and reading it.
We know there are a lot of people who like to hold something in their hands when they read it, and there is a whole new generation of people who read everything in an electronic format, whether on their desktop computers, laptop computers, iPads, and smart phones. We can’t do anything about people’s habits, but online publishing has its benefits.
First off, the paper we will be presenting will be in color. It will be in a PDF format which can be enlarged to the viewer’s liking. Ads will be able to be in color, color images will be offered in some articles, from time to time we’ll add some color graphics. Because space is not as limited in the electronic form we will now be able to add reception and lecture dates back into articles and add color images into the gallery listings to break up those massive pages of text. Articles about exhibits will be featured from throughout the Carolinas – even areas not included in the past in the printed paper.
Of course with an electronic version comes reduced ad rates – so some of our regular advertisers will be able to enlarge their ads and still save money, people who have thought about advertising, but never could fit it into their budgets, probably can now, and we’ll gain new advertisers from other areas of the Carolinas. One of our goals has always been to offer an informative visual arts paper people could afford to support. Info about advertising will be posted on our website (http://www.carolinaarts.com/advertising.html).
Now, some people have asked, how will I know people are reading my articles and seeing my ads when the paper is in an electronic form only? How many people will see the paper? How big a list do you have to e-mail people the paper? Can my ad be linked so if someone clicks it they will go to my website or blog? Can I get a report on how many people see my ad or the page my ad and article are on each month? These are all questions we don’t have the answers to (yet) and I don’t think we could have answered all of them when we were in print.
We used to print 10,000 copies of the paper and distribute most in good months and about 90% in bad months (cold and hot months). It’s impossible for any publication beyond those numbers to tell you how many people read it and how many see your ad. Surveys just guess at it.
This is all new and it will take time to grow. You could run into people six months from now who didn’t even know we had stopped printing. I’ve run into to people who had articles printed in the paper who didn’t know it when talking to me and they had a vested interest in the paper, so there is a lot of mystery involved, but with electronic media – there are ways of getting some info.
We get over 300,000 hits on our website every month – sometimes 400,000. But these are people who might have spent just a few seconds on our site. We know over 50,000 viewers spend time on the site reading every month and those numbers are growing all the time, some months it jumps to 60,000. I wish I knew what got their attention in those months so I could keep up whatever attracted so many new viewers. And, these folks are spread all over the world.
I can tell you that some of our most popular pages on our site are Carolina Arts Unleashed (one of our blogs), the gallery listings (all four sets), articles about exhibits, past juried exhibit results, and a few links to articles about Winston O. Link, an amazing photographer who did nighttime photos of old trains. We offered that info in 1999, but people still like to look at the images. But we have over 22,000 elements on our website of 11 years. That’s articles, graphics and images.
What Can You Do To Help?
What we are going to need is for our readers to let our supporters know you really appreciate them supporting Carolina Arts. These are the folks who make it happen. Without their support there would be no Carolina Arts – in any form. You need to visit these supporters and tell them. You need to send them e-mails. You need to click any links we have to their sites. You just need to let them know in any way you can. It’s really important that they get that message. And, the folks who really have to do this is those who get coverage in Carolina Arts, but do not contribute financially in any way. They really better let our supporters know – their continued coverage depends on it.
I don’t know what else I can tell you, but we think the paper is going to look good, we’re going to have a lot of info in it, and we hope you’ll make a New Year’s Resolution to be a supporter and reader of Carolina Arts in 2011.