Canadian Magazine Industry News
27 February 2009,     MONTREAL
Canada Council removes grant eligibility for controlled-circ mags
While preparing an application for a Canada Council for the Arts Support for Arts and Literary Magazines grant, Wah Keung Chan, publisher and editor of La Scena Musicale, discoveredcontrolled-circulation magazines were no longer eligible.

To qualify for funding under this program, a magazine must have a minimum paid circulation of 50%. In 2002, however, the Canada Council extended funding to magazines that “maintain at least a 25 percent ratio of revenues earned from paid circulation or advertising.” This change was known as the “Lola” clause, referring to a now-defunct visual art magazine. Canada Council eliminated this clause last year.

Chan, however, only became aware of this change when preparing this year’s application (due March 1, 2009 for funding in 2010), according to a posting on the magazine’s blog. La Scene Musicale had previously received funding from the Canada Council as an online-only publication.
For La Scena Musicale, the issue is a matter of principle and transparency. Although controlled-circulation arts magazines represent a minority, they have been innovators in outreach for the arts and should be eligible for funding. For instance, La Scena Musicale publishes 10 issues per year averaging 25,000 copies per issue reaching 500,000 Canadian readers, plus a world-wide audience on the internet. In 2007-08, the Canada Council funded 106 arts & literary magazines for a total of $2,661,900.
Chan also called the Canada Council's decision a "step backwards" for magazine funding programs:
For instance, after an extensive study of the magazine industry, last summer, the Ontario Arts Council revised its eligibility criteria for arts magazines rending controlled-circulation magazines eligible. Moreover, it established groundbreaking criteria (no more than 40% advertising, and a cap at 30,000 copies per issue).
To gather support for the controlled-circulation cause, Chan has created an online petition and Facebook group.

Canadian Magazines reports that the Canada Council said it did publish a notification about the elimination of the “Lola” clause on its website in December and sent notice in print and electronically to clients in January. Because La Scena Musicale was not an existing client, it did not receive these messages.
The change was recommended by peer juries who did not feel the provision was a good fit and felt that they did not want to frustrate applicants who had little chance of being successful.

The new rule affects, at most, 1 to 3 existing clients and, in those cases the peer juries have the ability to recommend an exception be made.

The so-called Lola clause was brought in internally, without public consultation, and didn't even result in a grant being given since the publication that sparked it felt four times as much was what was needed. (Note: the average beginning grant for most CC clients is about $7,000.) Ultimately the magazine went out of business.
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