City Arts is officially closing down. The free local arts publication, which launched 12 years ago, has reached its financial end of the road, and today its editorial team announced it would be ceasing operations.
The move doesn’t come as an unforeseeable shock. In April, City Arts announced that longtime parent company Encore Media Group — which specializes in event programs for organizations like Seattle Rep and Pacific Northwest Ballet — would no longer fund the monthly culture magazine, which was losing money. To keep the publication alive, City Arts launched an Indiegogo campaign with the goal of raising $150,000. In the end, the publication was only able to raise just under $57,000. It’s not that the writing was on the wall, but the writing was certainly hinting at a less bright future.
City Arts’ online archives will remain up, but the print publication is dead and the staff has been laid off. Despite that, the current editors hope that it can continue in some online-only format. Per their statement: “In the weeks ahead, efforts will continue to evolve and sustain City Arts in some fashion, such as a smaller all-digital platform. … We sincerely hope that some parts of what we’ve built over the years will find a way forward.”
As someone who has covered the Seattle arts and culture scene for years (often as essentially a one-person arts editorial team), the City Arts news is a bummer. While there’s certainly an element of sales reps for publications fighting behind the scenes for advertising revenue, the thought of journalists — especially arts writers — competing against one another has always struck me as preposterous. There is always so much going on in this city, and it’s impossible for one person or publication to adequately cover it all. The more informed voices with thoughtful perspectives shining the spotlight on cool and insightful art happening around town, the better.
Without City Arts, our city’s cultural picture is a little dimmer.