A! Magazine for the Arts Celebrates 15th Anniversary
October 27, 2009For the past 15 years, A! Magazine for the Arts has been the voice for the region's arts community.
Founded in 1994 by Bristol Herald Courier publisher Art Powers, the magazine was owned and published by the newspaper until 2004, when Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) became the owner and publisher. During the entire 15-year history, a committee of volunteers has provided editorial oversight.
Unique Partnership: A! Magazine & Bristol Newspaper
The unique partnership of Bristol Herald Courier and A! Magazine for the Arts continues today with Bristol Herald Courier donating the monthly printing and distribution of the magazine through subscription copies.
Carl Esposito, publisher of Bristol Herald Courier and regional publisher for Media General, says, "In too many communities, the arts don't receive the attention they deserve. I think that's especially true as it relates to the young people in our communities."
He continues, "I've lived and worked in several areas of the country. This publication and, more importantly, all that goes with it, is a much more meaningful and significant outreach than what I've seen elsewhere. It represents a superior platform. In large measure, I realize it appeals to an established demographic within the arts community here. Just by virtue of its availability, I think this publication and how it's put together also appeals to a younger audience. The beauty of that is, A! Magazine is creating a footprint for the future. That's an important part of the entire effort."
Of A! Magazine, Esposito says, "We are very happy to be associated with this publication. We applaud what you're doing. The magazine is beautifully designed. It's a terrific piece, much appreciated by the community. To see an outreach effort of this sort and to be part of that is a great thing for the community, and something we're very pleased to be a part of."
He adds, "It's one of the few publications we keep available in our lobby. When I'm out in the community and see people picking up single copies, they are very interested and they comment very favorably."
How Does A! Magazine Miraculously Appear Each Month?
From the very beginning, a committee of volunteers has performed editorial duties. These volunteers come from various areas of the arts in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. They generally do not represent particular institutions or organizations. Instead, they approach the task of producing the magazine in a manner intended to benefit the entire community, rather than serving themselves or their particular organizations. The members generate story ideas, edit and proofread the copy, advise on cover design, and collaborate on page layouts. The committee usually has 16 or more members, who form teams of three or four persons to produce each monthly issue.
Ann Holler is chair of the volunteer committee, and Angela Wampler is the writer and graphic designer. The committee has undertaken the sale of advertising, with the assistance of its volunteer advertising director, Ann McIver Goodpasture. Carl Clarke is the volunteer circulation manager for copies distributed by committee members.
Over the years, the print edition has grown from 16 pages to its current 24 pages. Each month approximately 29,000 copies are printed, with the majority inserted into newspaper home delivery copies, and the balance distributed to galleries, theatres, and other sites throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
The magazine is also presented online at www.artsmagazine.info. News and calendar items are added throughout the month. Free e-mail digests alert subscribers to new postings at least once a week. Articles include those from the print publication and additional online content, while the calendar offers the region's most comprehensive listing of arts and cultural events.
The publication received the 2003 Tennessee Governor's Award for Arts Leadership and a 2007 Pinnacle tourism award for the magazine's print/online editions and e-mail digest. A! Magazine for the Arts has been supported by Bristol Regional Medical Center, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Arts Alliance Mountain Empire
AAME was founded in 2003 at the urging of the Tennessee Arts Commission. Based in Bristol, the arts council is a 501(c)3 organization, chartered in both Tennessee and Virginia as a service organization for artists, arts organizations and other cultural endeavors throughout the Mountain Empire.
AAME's mission is "to nurture, advocate, and celebrate the arts" — one aspect of a community that defines its character, its future, and its attraction to visitors and new residents. It has been shown that a vibrant arts culture is indicative of other areas of success, such as economic promise and a positive environment, especially for youth.
AAME is a proven leader, having received an Arts Leadership award in 2006 from the Arts Council of Greater Kingsport (TN).
In addition to publishing A! Magazine for the Arts, AAME maintains three websites: (1) www.aamearts.org, featuring an Art Resource Directory and information about Arts Alliance projects; (2) www.artsmagazine.info, an award-winning online version of A! Magazine's monthly print edition, and (3) www.aippbristol.org, showcasing Bristol's Art in Public Places sculpture competitions.
Other AAME Projects & Services
• In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, AAME held Art in Public Places competitions which resulted in outdoor sculptures being installed in Bristol, TN/VA, promoting tourism by making downtown a destination.
• From 2006-2008, AAME hosted art and craft exhibits on State Street during Border Bash events, enhancing the "meet and greet" activity and the downtown district.
• For three years, AAME hosted two free Media Workshops and one on Fundraising & Marketing as a service to the arts community and non-profit organizations.
• In 2006, at the request of Bristol's Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, AAME worked several months to plan a glittering Ball to cap off the year-long birthday celebration.
• In 2006, AAME formed an Arts for Youth committee. The group's projects include: (a) managing "Arts for Youth Spotlight," a guest column by and about young people for A! Magazine; and (b) sponsoring a Juried "Artistic Excellence" Exhibit for junior and senior high school students in 2009; and more.
• AAME promotes tourism by publishing Our Cultural Crossroads, a visitor's guide to our region's vast array of arts and culture. In its second printing, 50,000 copies of this full-color 32-page brochure are being distributed regionally and nationwide by local Chambers of Commerce and Visitors Bureaus.
• AAME has co-hosted receptions honoring area legislators as well as chairmen of both Tennessee and Virginia arts commissions.
• AAME has coordinated the local exhibit of the "My Home Is Tennessee" project of the Tennessee Arts Commission, featuring works by area elementary school artists