Monday 23 August 2010

Guest Blogger Tina Rose of Rio Magazine

Spreading the Word

I was sitting on a train on a Saturday morning writing an article for Rio magazine and a woman sitting next to me suddenly said “I don’t want to appear rude, and I don’t usually do this, but I was reading over your shoulder, and that exhibition sounds really interesting, I wish I could go and see it.” And this shows exactly why I started Rio magazine.

Craft is really hard to find, and misunderstood, and research by the Crafts Council has shown that the major barriers for buyers is that they don’t know where to find craft or know much about it. Rio spreads the word about where to find it, see it, buy it, and why you want to do so. It is the only free magazine about craft in the UK, possibly the world (I suspect this makes me either innovative or very mad!) and it covers craft in a lively interesting way.

The leading magazine about craft in the UK is Crafts magazine, and 78% of readers are connected to the industry. If we want to build craft audiences then we need to start communicating with people outside of the sector, and talk about it in an attractive way so they can discover why craft is so exciting and fascinating.

The recession is leading to more wholesale selling, and while open studios are unmissable events, there has to be a strong retail market and opportunities for exhibitions so people can see and buy craft. Makers want opportunities to exhibit, and need to sell work to survive financially, and the shops and galleries who have craft exhibitions and sell quality craft, need support so they can continue in business. Too often lovely shops selling craft go out of business simply because there weren’t enough people buying from them. If we don’t communicate and reach new people there will be even fewer exhibitions and shops so the sector will be even weaker.

The response to Rio has been amazing; we have a growing reader club, RioPlus, and subscribers, and it has been welcomed by shops and galleries where copies are quickly picked up by visitors. It disappears just as quickly in all the coffee shops, hairdressers and other outlets where it can also be found. People love it and it is inspiring them to buy and visit exhibitions.

Why print? Because we can reach people who never dreamt of searching on Google for ‘craft’. Why Rio? I wanted a name that didn’t act as a barrier to readers; there are lots of magazines with a name that doesn’t say what it’s about (however, Rio stands for Really Interesting Objects, so craft is still there!) Why do it? Because I love writing about craft and want to tell people about all the amazing things people are creating and where they can see and buy them.

The August issue is digital (didn’t want to add to the paper mountain during the Edinburgh Festival!) so you can find it on our website – – it’s slightly smaller than usual, but still packed with information. Take a look – and let me know what you think! And if you know someone else who might like to read it, please tell them about it and spread the word.

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