Witness will live or die by its readers. If enough readers support us, we will thrive; if they don’t, we won’t. Our ambition is to become financially autonomous, so we can be truly independent.
We know we have readers: after we launched in March last year, our audiences increased by 25% a month. By the end of the year we reached a total of 34,500 users, with 89,500 page views. Not bad for a niche, non-commercial website! But if we are to continue, we need more of those readers to support us. 1000 memberships would completely secure our future. At the moment, we have 170.
We aim to be transparent (for details of our finances, see below). For this reason, Witness is not seeking advertising revenue, as we see this as a major conflict of interest. Advertising – especially the threat of its withdrawal – has too often been used as a means of influencing editorial decisions, with advertisers seeking to suppress negative coverage or even to get critics sacked.
Also for this reason, we do not accept sponsorship from performing arts companies, except when we enter specific collaborations that meet a mutual aim of generating discussion about the performing arts. One example is our critical program with Dancehouse around the Keir Choreographic Awards, which includes talks and workshops. These collaborations will always be clearly signalled. Also, as is standard with all media companies, we will accept provisions such as media review tickets and airfares/accommodation for interstate coverage.
We accept sponsorship from Education Partners. For example, Monash University’s Centre for Theatre and Performance is sponsoring us with a donation of $5000 through 2018, as part of our mutual aim of building connections between the academy and public discourse. Any educational institution interested in being a Witness Education Partner can contact us through this page for more information.
In 2018, we received $35,000 each from Creative Victoria and the Australia Council, which enabled us to set up this website and pay our staff, some freelancers and ourselves (a little). By the end of 2018, we had 170 members (our grateful thanks to each and every one of them), which added $18,000 to our budget.
Going into 2019, we have again received $35,000 from Creative Victoria, but our Australia Council application was unsuccessful. Our current budget – which pays core staff, freelance writers, social media manager, book keeper and accountant as well as our running expenses – lasts until June 2019. We will be forced to close in June unless we get more subscribers (and of course we’re applying for every grant in sight). Rob and Alison are earning $10,000 each for this six months, which has obvious implications for how much time we can devote to this project – like everyone else, we need to eat and pay rent – and nobody else is earning nearly enough.
Please support us, so we can keep going! You sign up at this page for as little as $5 a month. Every little bit makes a big difference.