On February 17th, 2009, the Government of Canada through the arm of the Canadian Heritage Fund announced a new funding plan that some say has the potential to devastate Canadian heritage. Small, niche magazines are especially at risk of folding under the new funding criteria that ties its financial support to the reading interests of Canadians and denies federal grants to magazines with circulations of less than 5,000 copies.
The Canada Periodical Fund, or CPF, is an initiative under the Canadian Government, more specifically the Department of Heritage, to provide funding ($30 million) to Canadian periodicals, magazines, and community newspapers. This program replaces the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program.
Of the programs the CPF is set to replace, the Canada Magazine Fund focused on maintaining high literary quality and editorial content in Canadian publications. It also helped the growth of small magazines through business initiatives. The Publications Assistance Program was a partnership between Canada Post and the Department of Canadian Heritage to offset the mailing costs, which is good for the reader and publisher because it makes subscription costs the same regardless of destination.
The CPF intends to merge the two programs in order to cut running costs and create a single agency, a one-stop shop. According to the official release on the Canadian Heritage website, the CPF is intended to:
- allocate funding according to the reading choices of Canadians
- build on efforts of the Canadian Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program
- re-distribute money to smaller publications
- reduce paper burden
Although the government says they are keen to re-allocate money to smaller publications, magazines with a circulation of less than 5000 readers are at risk of losing grant money; many smaller publications fear a loss of funding. The government needs to consider the value small publications bring to the Canadian cultural landscape, while there is not much monetary gain associated with small magazines; they play a significant role in the diversity of our publication industry, without them we are one step closer to becoming an industry producing Canadian copies of American titles.
What do you think of the new funding criteria proposed by the Canadian Heritage Fund? Do you fear for the future of your favourite small publication?