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Are litmags facing more funding cuts?

Canada’s beleaguered literary magazines, which could see significant funding cuts as early as April 2010, could be faced with further cuts as a result of an ongoing strategic review of the Canada Council for the Arts. In a recent post, magazines expert and blogger D.B. Scott speculated that the council may be asked to reallocate up to 5% of its budget – about $9 million – and suggests that one of the likely victims could be low-circulation literary and cultural magazines.

The government-mandated review requires the council to identify the least efficient or redundant aspects of its spending, which will then be reallocated either within the department or to another government agency.

It’s still too early to be certain where those cuts will be made, but Scott suggests that the current administration has already expressed its low opinion of small art and literary magazines. When the Department of Canadian Heritage underwent a similar review earlier this year, it resulted in the new Canadian Periodical Fund, which shuts out any publication with an annual circulation of less than 5,000 – a figure that effectively excludes just about every literary magazine in the country. (See Q&Q‘s past coverage.)

For his part, Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison remains optimistic that the magazine sector will be untouched by any future Canada Council cuts. “My assumption is that the funding for art and literary magazines should be relatively secure,” Jamison told Quillblog. Jamison pointed out that the council partakes in “very careful and robust” reviews of its spending each year, and that its program for litmags is anything but redundant. “It is not a program that is anything close to undersubscribed, and the demand is far greater than [the council] can fulfill.”

As for the new Canadian Periodical Fund, Jamison told Quillblog that Magazines Canada is still lobbying the government to make exceptions for publications that have low circulation but that are culturally significant. “I remain optimistic that a flexibility will be applied to the issues.”

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Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

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