Category: Archive

Ireland-based arts mag targeting U.S. market

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Economic prosperity invariably extends a helping hand to the arts and this was indeed the case during the peak years of the Celtic Tiger.
Those heady economic days may be gone but artistic endeavor has not slackened. The pace and extent of this activity is being chronicled in glossy detail by Irish Arts Review, formerly a yearly publication but now reworked into a quarterly magazine.
The IAR makes an American debut this week with a launch in New York aimed at the U.S. corporate gift market. The magazine already has a number of U.S. subscribers who have it mailed from Ireland and it is also available in some public libraries.
However, publisher John Mulcahy is now planning to bulk-ship copies to the U.S. as part of a plan to expand sales.
Mulcahy is the publisher of Phoenix, a popular Dublin-based investigative and satirical magazine that is marking its 20th anniversary this year.
But IAR is an entirely separate venture from Phoenix, Mulcahy said just prior to leaving Dublin for New York.
Mulcahy became publisher of IAR last year and at present he is also acting as its editor.
The IAR dates back to 1984 so is almost the same age as Phoenix. But while the latter has maintained a familiar style and consistency of subject matter over the years, Mulcahy has introduced changes to IAR that he said he feels are more geared to contemporary arts and design in Ireland.
“The arts is an area I’ve always been interested in,” said Mulcahy. “It’s both a business and a pleasure to publish the review though of course it poses its own particular difficulties from a purely business point of view.
“The review has always been a high quality publication, good to look at and with top quality writing but I think it is now a little less academic than it was before.
“Our hope it to generate interest in the Irish-American community in a wide range of fields, including visual arts, fine arts, photography, sculpture and architecture. The review is really a nice dip into contemporary Irish arts.”
The dip into New York this week will be aided by the Ireland-U.S. Council.
“We are hoping to interest members of the council and business people in general to take out subscriptions for their clients, as Christmas gifts for example,” Mulcahy said.
Mass mailings are not part of the IAR’s American plans because of prohibitive cost. But the review will be working closely with various cultural organizations, including the New Jersey-based Irish American Cultural Institute, the American Irish Historical Society in New York, and the Irish Georgian Society, in order to attract additional American readers.
Mulcahy said that he hoped hope to attract about 1,000 new subscriptions at $70 each from this week’s “initial foray.”
The print run for IAR is currently running at 10,000 per quarter and each issue runs to 150 or so glossy pages.
Asking corporations to buy subscriptions, 100 or perhaps 50 at a time, was “a different sort of marketing idea,” Mulcahy said.
Mulcahy acknowledged that IAR’s market expansion was taking flight against the background of leaner economic times.
Advertising at the moment was “a tough one,” he said.
But IAR is a niche publication that, the publisher believes, could expect advertising from big cultural institutions while also attracting ads from smaller galleries and individual artists.
“Rather happily, many artists are now advertising their own works with a view to making sales,” Mulcahy said. “The Irish arts scene really took off in recent years. There’s a huge number of people now working in the arts and virtually every town in Ireland has a gallery, due to European Union funding in the 1990s.
“There’s a lot young people taking up the arts as a means of making living. It’s a lovely fallback in tougher economic times,” Mulcahy said.
As a result, he added, the arts was a booming activity even if it was not always booming business.
While the primary focus of IAR is on artistic activity in Ireland, the current issue contains an extensive treatment of the work of U.S.-based artist Hugh O’Doherty.
At first glance, the IAR is reminiscent of an other high-end glossy that was aimed in recent years at the U.S. market, but which ultimately failed.
Mulcahy is quick to acknowledge IAR’s first glance resemblance to the late World Of Hibernia magazine, but he also pointed to what he believes are significant differences.
“World of Hibernia was published in the U.S. and geared towars the American market,” he said. “We’re different in that our base is definitely Ireland. And while we’re also a very good looking publication, ours is a more focused product.
“From a commercial point of view, I think that World of Hibernia was too general in its editorial content, and from an advertising point of view, it was very expensive trying to reach out to a mass market.
“Our ambitions are much smaller. We appeal to a smaller group of people, so we can pick up of new readers as we go along, but in smaller quantities.”

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