First Years of Publication: An Interview with Former Editor Risa Bear
What were the challenges to starting CultureWork as an online-only journal?
Relatively few. I was experienced in online editing due to my project for the M.A. in English, Renascence Editions (http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/), and familiar with the concept of an online scholarly journal from being a board member of Early Modern Literary Studies (EMLS) (http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/emlshome.html), a visionary journal created by Canadian professors of the English Renaissance who were also computer geeks.
What was the vision for CultureWork and its potential impact on the arts and culture sector?
That was Doug’s prerogative! I gathered he wanted to reach the field with ideas originating from visionaries who see art as a way of preserving the commons, a democratizing influence. I was very much in sympathy with this view. He asked what a “broadside” was in the English Renaissance, and seemed pleased with the answer — that these were off-the-cuff works, originating among the people, aimed at the widest possible audience, typically on one side of one sheet of paper for rapid dissemination, intended to persuade while entertaining. He then proposed that I design for him a simple journal that would carry one, two or three articles (but not more), surmising (correctly, I think) that online readers quickly tire of longer publications. We had to make our point very briefly, and this was included in the directions to authors. In a way it was a precursor to blogging.
In what ways was CultureWork envisioned as part of the Institute for Community Arts Studies?
I was really focused on the journal, which was my equivalent (as the first “second Master’s” student in the program) of an internship, and so did not pay much attention to the ICA[S] as a whole. I understood “Community” as a clue to the direction of the journal, though.
What were significant highlights about CultureWork for you during your editorship?
I really, really enjoyed working on the Graffiti/tagging issue. Those paintings got to me and I understood the power of Outsider art for really the first time. Also, I liked combining the roles of editor and graphic designer.
As you completed your editorship, where did you see CultureWork’s focus heading for the following 10 years?
I thought that, given the caliber of people in the program and the consistency of Doug Blandy’s vision, the future of the broadside as an influential tool for preserving the commons was secure.
-Risa Bear, March 24, 2012