In a Jan. 16 letter to staff and supporters, Ark Magazine Owner and Publisher Jamie Wolkenbreit announced that he is beginning the process of shutting down the publication after two years of covering arts and entertainment in the Arkansas River Valley. In a conversation with Wolkenbreit on Monday, he expressed his great appreciation for the dedication of staff and all those who had helped create and support Ark Magazine. The decision, says Wolkenbreit, was a painful one.
“This project has been a passion of mine, conceived in a simpler frame of mind. I imagined retiring from my day job (he is a physical therapist) in pursuit of building up an idyllic cultural center in the Ark Valley. In my dreams, I saw Provence and the French Quarter of New Orleans and Cannes all wrapped into one. I saw a place where many forms of expression could exist and thrive at a high level, inspired by this amazing place and our people.”
Wolkenbreit’s letter expressed his great appreciation for the dedication of staff and all those who had helped create and support Ark Magazine. At the same time, he acknowledged that the effort became something more than his resources. “I ran out of steam. I also ran out of money. So, I will announce today the official ‘shelving’ of the Ark Magazine.”
Ark Magazine (www.arkmagazine.net) was conceived as a free, advertising-supported entertainment publication. While it’s base was a digital arts and entertainment site, it also committed to to a bi-monthly print compilation of the entertainment platform’s major entertainment interviews duirng high tourist season. It was a publicity machine for the valley, and the source for dates, times and tourist entertainment events listings.
When growing a business, there comes a time when a business needs to become larger, or smaller. Wolkenbreit said that one of the challenges of growing the publication was “to grow to a certain size you need a core staff of people who are dependablem, focused on the mission, and not working four jobs. It’s HR (human resources) …managing the people … that became more than my resources.”
Launched in spring 2017, the Ark Magazine filled an obvious void in the marketplace; providing exposure for the growing arts and entertainment activity in the Arkansas River Valley. The major growth in music and entertainment venues has stretched from Buena Vista south to Salida, and has also come to include special event music festivals — from the Gentlemen of the Road in Salida, to last summer’s Seven Peaks Music Festival in Buena Vista, featuring Dierks Bentley.
During it’s brief years of existence, Ark Magazine accomplished least two major things. First, as competition often does to any business category, its very existence elevated the level of journalism in the Arkansas River Valley. The combination of solid journalistic coverage of music and entertainment, so important to valley’s tourism business, and its pre-event approach made it newsworthy and economically aligned with businesses throughout the valley. Ark Magazine made the Arkansas Valley Publishing Company 9arent of The Mountain Mail and Chaffee Coutny Times) stand up and take notice. It spurred them to revamp the tired content of the Mountain Guide, it’s only regular, free publication, as it attempted a focus on the arts.
“The quality of journalism we’ve been able to provide has been one of the silver linings to this,” said Wolkenbreit. “Our journalists stepped up, and we made other publications step up too.”
As an added bonus, Ark Magazine offered what was arguable the best events calendar in the valley; committing significant resources to developing the structure, and seeking out and building entertainment connections. It was so good, that other local media simply relied upon it as the definitive listing. While some simply cut and pasted events from that calendar into their own calendars, Ark Valley Voice announced its calendar partnership with Ark Magazine when we went live in March, 2019. We simply linked to that calendar and placed the calendar link on our site, www.arkvalleyvoice.com .
The significant effort behind the calendar was a major lift for the start-up, according to Wolkenbreit, and something of which he is extremely proud. “I want to leave in place the relationships we have and the publicity machine for arts and culture we’ve developed,” said Wolkenbreit. “I’ve learned so much about how we support business and creative industries in the valley.”
Wolkenbreit published this letter explaining his decision, on line: https://arkmagazine.net/ark-magazine-shelved-indefinitely/?et_fb=1