Heads up, Seattle — there’s a new arts publication in town, and copies of the first issue are just about finished hitting your favorite cafes, restaurants and retailers.

The inaugural edition of PublicDisplay.ART, or the “tabloid,” as Seattle-area publishing veteran Marty Griswold describes the project, spotlights 10 visual artists across 24 pages of a free, physical publication and an accompanying digital website. The operation is stewarded by the nonprofit organization One Reel, former longtime producer of Bumbershoot and where Griswold serves as executive director. It is distributed by the Northwest Polite Society, a Seattle-based marketing company that says 15,000 copies are scheduled to circulate throughout the city. 

Slated to publish quarterly, the magazine arrives at a time other print publications focusing on the arts have ceased or cut back. PublicDisplay.ART “is very much an homage to The Stranger, City Arts, The Weekly,” Griswold said. “It killed me when City Arts closed down. Print media is just getting harder and harder to do — especially when your business is based on ads. We’re not dependent on ads. We’re funding this through grants and private donations.”

Funding for the inaugural edition pools private donations, a cut of One Reel’s operational budget and $8,700 of a larger Civic Partners grant awarded to the nonprofit this year by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. The publication’s distribution partner also provided in-kind contributions, slashing its service charges in half. 

Erika Lindsay, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s communications manager, said the project is not a direct program of the city. “We are excited for this new endeavor,” Lindsay said. “We are grateful that our funding can help boost artists in Seattle.” 

There is currently no staff dedicated to PublicDisplay.ART. Altogether, Griswold has allotted a $15,000 budget to cover the cost of printing, distribution and fees for the first issue.

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Though no new work was commissioned from the 10 participating artists for PublicDisplay.ART’s debut, they were paid a flat stipend for time spent contributing to the issue’s preproduction process, which involved submitting their artist statements and answering questionnaires. 

Griswold acknowledged that paying the subjects of articles — a departure from traditional journalistic practices — is unorthodox. “But then again,” Griswold said, “so is the idea of a nonprofit publishing a free tabloid … supported entirely by grants, sponsorships and donations, versus a traditional print-advertising model, which clearly could not sustain Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, or City Arts.” (City Arts shut down in 2018. Seattle Weekly ceased print publication in 2019, and The Stranger suspended its print edition in 2020, though both still exist online.)

It’s also part of One Reel’s mission to provide opportunities to artists in the community, Griswold said. “One Reel has always compensated the artists we work with. Early in the process, we agreed that we should continue this courtesy to the artists featured” in PublicDisplay.ART.

Griswold also positioned the publication as less of a traditional news publication and more of a platform that showcases artists and their works and, eventually on its website, perhaps even allow readers to purchase artwork from the publication’s featured artists. 

“The original intent behind PublicDisplay.ART was to publish an art exhibit on newsprint, which would allow us to distribute it free throughout Seattle, in order to put art into the hands of everyone,” Griswold said.

Eric Ames, department chair of the University of Washington’s Cinema & Media Studies department, said that, while he’s unfamiliar with PublicDisplay.ART, this sort of arrangement isn’t unprecedented. “Take documentary filmmaking, for example. Filmmakers often pay subjects (albeit a modest amount) for their time and labor, which help make the film possible. Or art exhibition catalog essays. Those are commissioned from the start.”

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The next issue of the publication is planned for a March release, with the current edition’s artists serving as the primary contributors and curators. Griswold said that the budget for the next issue is a little bigger — $18,000 — which translates to more pages and the addition of new features, including reviews, guides and experimental forms of arts writing. Griswold plans on keeping the focus on visual arts over the next few issues, with hopes of expanding coverage to music and other performing arts as live events start to return in earnest. 

One Reel’s 2022 budget, which has been submitted to its board for approval, includes four issues of the tabloid. Griswold, who hopes to bring on staff as the operation grows, plans to do more fundraising and apply for more city funding for the publication.

Seattle-based artist Anouk Rawkson, who is featured in the magazine’s debut, says PublicDisplay.ART serves as a sorely needed platform. “With COVID, a lot of the arts suffered,” Rawkson said in a phone interview. “For any artist, to get your body of work out to the public is a great opportunity.”

Seattle-based artist and curator Tariqa Waters, whose work headlines the issue’s cover, said it’s important for the publication to cover a wide array of artists, geographically and otherwise. “A lot of folks have had to move out of the city,” Waters said. ”I try to do my best to reach out, to try and get some understanding of what’s happening in the arts community outside of my network and my circle, which City Arts was good at. You were excited to see the monthly publication because you got some insight beyond your scope and got excited about what was happening.”

When asked about the publication’s viability, Griswold is optimistic. “Everybody’s hungry for this. That’s why I feel like we’re going to be growing rapidly.”