The Western Magazine Awards Foundation has officially confirmed that the 2015 competition has been cancelled. (We reported this likelihood in late April when executive director Kate Cockerill had quietly resigned and the foundation's website no longer functioned.)The volunteer board of directors says despite efforts to reduce costs, including trying to create a targeted sponsorship campaign, it still has insufficient resources to run the competition this year.With the loss of federal funding, the event would have been faced with at least a $25,000 deficit.
"Many forces have come together in recent years to inhibit the work of the WMAF," the board said in a mesage. "Among them, as industry budgets continue to tighten, attendance of the Gala Awards has undergone a steady decline, especially among our colleagues outside B.C.
"The year’s most critical challenge by far, however, has been the decision by the Canadian Heritage ministry to cease funding any and all “initiatives to recognize and/or reward” Canadian magazines through the Canadian Periodical Fund (CPF). These federal grants traditionally covered the vast majority of the WMAF’s operating expenses, including the position of Executive Director, which is now vacant."The board is asking its community of interest to respond to a brief survey by September 30 "on how to best continue recognizing excellence and supporting innovation in the Western Canadian magazine industry."
The survey questions ask, among other things, about the relative importance of the awards competition and gala compared to other professional development the foundation has run or a range of possible alternatives for the future.
The annual awards were established in 1983 to honour and celebrate editorial excellence in magazine writing, photography, illustration and art direction in the four western provinces. This is accomplished through the annual awards competition, a gala event where winners are announced and recognized with cash prizes, and The Magazine School, an educational program featuring WMA-winning work.