The remaining staff of cherished Bristol and Bath culture institution Venue have published an open letter in response to the website’s closure. The farewell rant, posted today on the last day of Venue‘s online existence after the demise of its print version, calls out publishers Local World for stripping the publication of its initial values through “a thousand cuts and a colourful assortment of full-frontal stabbings.”
A former beacon of South West culture, the magazine has undergone dramatic changes in recent years and, after 30 years of operation, was changed to online-only last year. The letter divulges:
“Nevertheless, the two remaining of our number, working part-time on alternate weeks, would be the first to admit that Venue is a husk of its former self. Frankly, they’ll be glad to be put out of their misery. Where once they were part of a vast team of journalists delivering informed, first-hand comment from every last facet of city life, today our hapless duo struggle to do much more than pass on received opinion and rehash press releases.”
As part of wider cuts to regional newspapers involving proposals where local magazines are essentially compiled by a handful of desk staff armed with press releases, the staff unapologetically call out new management Local World.
“Local World, we put our very heart and soul into our catalogue of work. And if you think you can now simply walk in and trample on its remains, then you can, with the very greatest lack of respect, fuck the fuck off.“
They go on to critique the plans, while stressing the commercial opportunity involved:
“And you want to hand over that legacy to a paper whose management – not journalists – are the precise equivalent of those radio stations which promise “your better music mix” and then put the same few songs on repeat. Which claim “the best new music” and fail to add “once it has charted and proved its popularity.” You want to hand over that legacy because, to quote from a staff email you neglected to send us, “The existing Venue website has really good functionality with a real blend of music reviews, listings, restaurant reviews etc, etc. This is a fantastic opportunity to grow our digital audience and a great platform to sell advertising on.”
Although today marks Venue magazine’s closure, the bare bones site will continue to exist under a different name. The remaining employees aren’t so encouraged by the repackaging:
“Sometime in December, we learn, venue.co.uk will re-emerge, like butterfly become grub, as www.bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Because, heck, nothing answers “Hey, where to find what’s happening in town tonight?” quite so snappily as www. bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Given a firm push, a downhill gradient and a stiff following wind, it just rolls off the tongue.”
Although the site has been taken offline, you can still read the full post here. As a pioneering force in Bristol and Bath culture for three decades, Venue will be sorely missed.