Rachel and I (Warren) started the Doncopolitan with a clear vision in mind; to showcase the wealth of local talent which Doncaster possesses, but which is too often ignored, and to prove once and for all that there is no such thing as a ‘cultural desert’.
The theme of our first issue was #FakeItUntilYouMakeIt. Working from our initial tag line – If You Wanna Be A City, Act Like A City! – we argued that it was time to quit the moaning and the constant negativity and start acting as if this was the only place on earth you wanted to be; or as I wrote in that issue:
The future is unwritten. Why not be the ones holding the pen? Act like you’re living in the best place on earth and one day you will be.
I won’t elaborate any further as you can read the full article its on page 8 of Issue One, but I will say that commitment to this belief, and the front page statement about ‘building bohemia’ (see photograph above), remain our central focus.
These are undeniably hard time for a lot of Doncaster residents. The number of people begging (and sleeping) on our streets is heartbreaking. The communities in and around Doncaster’s many satellite towns are struggling and rightfully anxious about the future. The majority of us who work on the Doncopolitan are struggling ourselves. But cynicism, negativity, fear, anger and victim blaming will never change anything. Only re-visioning and positive action – daring to dream and to build upon those dreams – can instigate real change.
Some might question whether art and culture can influence ‘real life’.
Studies have show that a thriving art scene also has a positive effect on the local economy. Likewise a vibrant Creative Industries sector is good for the wider business community; and what is good for local business is good for Doncaster as a whole.
But the Doncopolitan sees ‘culture’ in much broader terms than art and commerce. To us ‘culture’ is the sum of human activity which can be seen on so many intertwined and interdependent levels. Some cultures are more clearly defined and more widely accepted than others, but none exist in a vacuum and non are more legitimate or more advanced than another. Wherever there are humans there is culture – hence there can never be a ‘cultural desert’ – and many of the problems people face (especially our young people) stem from cultural choices and the need to belong to something… sometimes, in extreme cases, to the only culture which has ever offered them any form of companionship; however ‘wrong’ or ‘warped’ it might seem to those who have led more fortunate lives. So the creation of alternative and welcoming cultures – such as Doncopolitanism for example – can offer people new choices and new opportunities.
Throughout the pages of the Doncopolitan we’ve presented new visions and documented people who are already doing work which is making a difference. People who are actively building an alternative future for Doncaster. Our own sister projects, things like Rooted and PermaFuture, are focusing on the fundamentals – growing food, bringing people together, etc. – to seed new cultural strategies which will be open to everyone and anyone, and which, we hope, will be able to provide for people even in the bleakest of times.
We’re not great at blowing our own trumpet, but I think its safe to say that we’re beginning to make a difference, however small, to the town we love.
The success of our magazine, however, seems to have generated some misconceptions. Contrary to what some people seem to think, Doncopolitan isn’t a well-funded, cash-rich business. Rachel and I – and the forty or so contributors who help make each issue happen – aren’t living the good life. We’ll be eternally grateful for the seed funding from Right Up Our Street which paid for the development of the first couple of issues, but from very early on the print magazine has relied 100% on advertising, subscriptions and donations to keep going… a massive thank you to all our supporters!
We have managed to create a couple of part-time jobs – most importantly for our Sales Manager, Amanda; she’s the main reason the magazine is getting thicker lately! And we felt it was vital to use some of the revenue generated by the magazine to create our studio HQ on Copley Road so that there is a focal point capable of bringing Doncaster creatives, businesses and groups together to make s**t happen. But two years on and the Doncopolitan is still made chiefly by volunteers and mainly designed in the wee hours because we’re all still busy working ‘proper’ jobs. This particular art machine runs mostly on PASSION.
There have been times when our passion well has run dry and we’ve come all too close to throwing in the towel, but each time a new wonderful person comes along to put the wind back beneath our wings (most recently we have Gwyn and Jennefer to thank for this) and we find ourselves, once again, rushing toward the next issue.
But we live in the real work (even if it *is* a world we’re dedicated to changing) and the Doncopolitan needs money to keep doing what it does. Advertising, subscriptions and donations are our lifeblood, so if you can help, or if you know of somebody who can help, please visit the advertising, sponsoring and/or subscription pages of our website.
We’re also looking at crowdfunding to help us get by, so if you have any ideas regarding ‘rewards’ please get in touch.
Money has never been our motive, and nor is it the only way you can help. Why not contribute an article, artwork, photograph or review to the magazine? Maybe you have an idea for a theme or event? Perhaps you want to volunteer for one of our projects or to work at Doncopolitan HQ? Or perhaps you’d like to help distribute the magazine or stock it in your business or venue? We’d like to hear from you too…
Every little helps and gets us a step closer to our goals.
Change is coming, we can feel it in our water, but until then our mantra must always be…
No sleep till Bohemia!