After a fundraising drive to try to save City Arts—their IndieGogo campaign earlier this year raised $56,944 from members of the community—the arts and culture glossy has just announced they have "run out of funding and are ceasing publication."
Before spinning off as an independent publication, City Arts had been published by Encore Media, which had been subsidizing City Arts since its inception 11 years ago. The IndieGogo was intended to transform the publication into something that could exist without Encore. But the money raised through IndieGogo was only 37 percent of their goal, which had been set at $150,000.
City Arts distinguished itself with high-quality photography. Some Stranger veterans ended up working for City Arts (including their art director Dan Paulus, who was previously an editorial designer here), and some writers who started at City Arts eventually moved to The Stranger.
Rich Smith, for example, was the City Arts books and talks columnist for a year before he worked at The Stranger. Asked just now for his happiest memory of writing that column, Rich said, "Writing about poet voice." Asked if he could recall a piece by someone else in City Arts that stuck with him, he mentioned writing by Amanda Manitach and Sarah Galvin.
It is not easy to be a print publication, especially after paper prices went up 20 percent following Trump's tariffs. In recent months, against all odds, the magazine has been produced just a block from The Stranger's offices. We have been hoping for their success. This is not a happy day for anyone.
Here's a bit more of their goodbye message:
From the jump, we worked in earnest to connect the many aspects of our region’s arts and culture, across disciplines, high to low. We made the decision to focus on people, on the relatability of their humanity, as a means of making art and artists more accessible. We focused on the local creative ecosystem first and foremost, with a commitment to emerging artists and the grassroots. We pushed to strengthen that ecosystem in ways that would make it possible for artists to spend their whole careers here, without having to leave because they ran out of money or opportunity. In pursuing those goals, our team became the rare kind of family that comes along maybe once in a lifetime. Together we helped reshape the conversation in the city.
During those eight years, much has changed in our region, our world and our lives. We’ve seen artists, projects and productions come and go. Through all of the changes, it has been an extraordinary honor to serve this community and to tell the stories of the remarkable artists and culture-makers who live here. Making a magazine with a tiny crew and shoestring budget is challenging and relentless, but our community always made the hard work absolutely worth it.
Through our successes and failures, we’ve learned so much from all of you, and from each other. Among the most important lessons was how to use our platform as a vehicle for social justice, to paint a portrait of the creative life of Seattle that accurately reflects the spirit of this place and the character of our culture. Art is a means to fight the ills of patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism and to render the kinder, more human world we want to live in.
For now, we take heart in the beautiful prism of countless people who’ve been with us on this ride and we trust that our legacy lives somewhere in those beams of light.
Good luck to Leah Baltus, Andy Fife, Dan Paulus, Gemma Wilson, Jonathan Zwickel, Amanda Manitach, Rachel Shimp, and the rest of their staff as they figure out what's next.