Free Weekly Staff
Around the world, and right here in our own backyard, print media is reinventing itself — with the help of dedicated staff and community. These writers, photographers, freelancers, concert goers, food critics, free speakers, readers, know it’s important for the local media to stay alive, and gain back some of the strength that has been lost since the invention of smart phones and aggregated news websites.
Their hardest mission, besides their everyday jobs, is how to best accomplish this. How do you grab the attention of a culture that has so many options, so little time, and has been largely left out of the print revolution?
Before you can remind them of the importance of an alternative voice in tangible form; before you can describe the satisfaction of holding an object that shares common information for and from the community; before you can make them understand that once print is gone, so too will an important part of the physical manifestation of connectedness through media; before all this, they have to be enticed to pay attention.
While we do this partly with information that can’t be found anywhere else in Northwest Arkansas, people still have to know where to find us. That’s where The Free Weekly’s magazine stand art project — supported by REfresh Fayetteville and artist Adam Campbell — comes in. Through the support of local artists and community members who recognize the importance of having an alternative voice, we will be beautifying our stands throughout Fayetteville, to catch the eye of a new generation of Free Weekly readers — bringing people out of the world encased on their smart phones, back to a medium that helps connect them to what’s going on around them.
Ironically, while print media has been a central part of communities in the United States for more than 100 years, the vessels in which they are offered to the public have been largely ignored. This project is meant to remind passersby that a newspaper stand isn’t just a fixture in the background — it holds information about their world, their community and the things that affect them. Unlike the traditional newspaper that follows strict codes of properness, TFW has the opportunity to retrain people’s eyes to look towards the stands using original art as our catalyst.
Through the help of our first participating artist, Campbell, and through REfresh Fayetteville’s artist recruitment efforts, we will remind the community that a free publication reporting on subjects that are forgotten or dismissed in regular media is not only important to them, but to maintaining the alternative spirit of Fayetteville.
Fayetteville is lucky to be one of the few communities around the country to have an alternative media source with a well-established history, structure and readership, and we plan on taking advantage of that. Unfortunately, 2012 saw the contraction of the alternative weekly news media around the country, including the closing of The Boston Phoenix, and the selling off of The Chicago Reader, San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, among others. Through this project, and others, TFW will be able to offer its platform of sharing the alternative perspective and voice for years to come.
The artists who have offered their talents and time so far are some of the best Northwest Arkansas has to offer. Campbell’s stand has already been completed and by March 2014, stands painted by Asha Rayevskiy, Tolic Rayevskiy, Matt Miller (organizer of REfresh Fayetteville), Eli Mathis and Ethan Fowler will be on the streets and gaining attention.
Each time a stand is completed, TFW will print an article featuring the artist who contributed, so you can see which artists are actively participating in keeping our voice alive. TFW offered each artist funds for supplies, and a spot at our exhibition to be held in March. If you’d like to contribute to the project, or to the artists who are giving their time, energy and showing their support, contact Adam Campbell at www.facebook.com/adam.campbell.90813?fref=ts, visit www.facebook.com/refreshfayetteville, or contact Matt Miller directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.