Warren Draper explains why there will be no Christmas issue of Doncopolitan this year.
Words: Warren Draper
Photography: Warren Draper
When we started Doncopolitan we knew that we had to treat Doncaster with the highest possible level of passion, respect and positivity if we were going to show the (all too often hidden) wonders of our town and its people to convince the doubters that a braver, brighter future is truly possible. To do this we had to design something a beautiful as we possibly could and invest in the highest production methods we could afford (we have to thank Andrew Loretto and Right Up Our Street for the initial seed funding to print the first edition).
Rachel Horne and I don’t like to blow our own trumpets (something which we should probably learn to do better if we are to avoid repeating the current situation which I am about to describe), but we can honestly say that our strategy worked. As well as showcasing the talent we always knew existed, the magazine has acted as a focal point for arts and culture and attracted amazing people who we previously knew nothing about. We could never have dreamed that arts and culture would become such a major aspect of the town’s future. We are proud of the small part we played, but it has come at a cost.
Because we create something which is beautifully produced, many people believe that we’re a well-resourced, well-financed operation with paid staff, who have the honour of working full-time on a project they love. While it is certainly a project we love, the rest could not be further from the truth.
Doncopolitan is not our main job. To pay the bills we have to find work elsewhere. For the first two years we had our editorial meetings in the basement of Furniture Factors, where I used to work. I used to design the magazine partly at work – in-between serving customers and setting up displays – and partly through the night (although, as any magazine designer will tell you, working through the night is pretty much the norm when you have deadlines). I didn’t leave Factors because of the success of the magazine, I left to found Doncopolitan’s sister project, Bentley Urban Farm. Rachel’s main work isn’t Doncopolitan either. She works part-time at St John’s Hospice, using her artistic talents to give comfort to people who are nearing the end of this amazing journey we call life.
Doncopolitan has never struggled for content. Our town and its people are such a rich source of stories, that if we were a well-resourced, well-financed operation we could easily become a weekly publication. But we are not, and we have always deeply regretted not being able to pay each of our wonderful contributors; writers, designers, artists, illustrators, photographers and admin workers alike. The simple fact is that Rachel and I have often subsidised the magazine from the likes of arts commissions and other work. Money isn’t our main motivator for anything we do. We are artists. We live simply – sometimes to the point of masochism – so that we can channel what little resources we have into our creative passions. But we have reached breaking point once too often (our personal lives are beginning to suffer from the strain, with Rachel having to take time away from most of her commitments recently due to stress) – and all too often the background tasks of chasing ads, chasing money and chasing the naysayers out of Donny get in the way the creative work which is our true passion; work which led to us producing Doncopolitan in the first place.
With all of this in mind we’d like to apologise for the fact that, for the fist time since we started, there will be no Christmas issue of Doncopolitan this year. We need to take time out to restructure what we do so that we can continue to do the work which we feel is still important to Doncaster.
Our blog and online presence will become busier than ever to compensate for the gap between printed magazines – and to balance out the still all too frequent negativity. We will be back with a newly designed magazine next year. The new structure will finally allow us to pay our contributors and support the artisan economy we are helping to build.
In the meantime, please stay in touch with us via social media. Sign up to our weekly listings guide. And, if you’re a local billionaire (or even just slightly flush), why not consider becoming a patron of the arts… hint, hint ?
Photography Warren Draper ©2018