We’re partnering with Communication to help us take our next steps.
Beginning this fall, Tone Madison is entering into a partnership with Communication, a non-profit venue and arts organization that recently opened up on the east side. Tone Madison will operate as an autonomous entity under Communication’s umbrella which will allow us to function within Communication’s non-profit framework.
We will be hosting an open house at Communication on Saturday, September 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. to talk more about the partnership and the why we think our organizations can do some great work together for Madison.
We’re embarking upon this exciting new chapter for two reasons. One, Communication can provide us with a support structure as we work to make Tone Madison a more sustainable voice in local media. Two, our organizations share common goals of helping the Madison community engage more deeply with the arts and fostering critical, honest conversations.
When Tone Madison launched almost four years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that we’d even have the opportunity to form such a partnership and have a real support structure. This has always been a tiny, insanely scrappy operation, supported by our generous readers and some advertisers who understand and support our mission. The reception Tone Madison has gotten from local readers has been immensely gratifying. Over time, more and more folks have stepped up to write for the site as well as to take on other crucial roles, and I’m proud to work with such an incredible team. I don’t know how to begin thanking everyone who’s made this project possible, except to say that we’ll do everything we can to be worthy of your support.
Under this agreement, Tone Madison will be using a small corner of Communication’s physical space, and Communication will function as Tone Madison’s fiscal receiver for grants and donations. Our two organizations will also partner directly on some grant-funded projects in community media, and I am excited to tell everyone more about that soon. Tone Madison will also contribute to programming in the space.
A publication that covers local arts and culture partnering up so closely with a local arts and culture organization will understandably create some concerns about conflicts of interest and journalistic independence. We will address this by being as transparent as possible with our readers about this relationship and any issues it creates for our coverage, and we will expect the same from our colleagues at Communication. We will not be the venue’s PR shop, and Communication’s leadership has not asked us to. We are in the process of drawing up a formalized contract about all this, and will share it publicly once it’s finished.
When it comes to covering events or programming at Communication, we’ll do what we do now: We’ll highlight the events that we’re interested in and cover news that we think is worth bringing to the attention of our readership. We don’t cover everything Communication does now, or prioritize coverage of Communication over any other venue in town, and that won’t change. When it comes to Tone Madison’s editorial and business decisions, the buck stops with me. Communication’s staff and board of directors will not have a role in our decision-making. Getting Tone Madison‘s revenue in the form of donations, ads, and grants will be our job, not Communication’s. The grants that we do partner on are not expected to make up a significant portion of Tone Madison’s budget.
This partnership makes sense not just because of what it will mean for Tone Madison’s future, but because the leadership at Commmunication convinced me that they truly get it.. Founders Jennifer Bastian, Spencer Bible, Tessa Echeverria, and Mollie Martin, and board members Ross Adam, Tori Dexter, and Jamie Ho understand what we’re doing and the importance of writing and publishing as we see fit. If I believed they were seeking a partnership for marketing purposes, I wouldn’t go ahead with this. I respect their judgment, their commitment to community, and the organizational sense they’ve brought to their mission. Journalists all over the world strive to put out valuable work and maintain integrity within structures they’re not always thrilled about—from big newspaper chains to outlets owned by local sales bros. To get to connect Tone Madison with an organization of people I respect and admire is pretty thrilling, and I can’t really think of anything better to help us take our next steps.
Over the course of the fall, we’ll be launching another fundraising campaign and I will begin transitioning to a full-time role as Tone Madison‘s publisher and editor-in-chief. During our summer semi-hiatus we took stock of a lot of things we need to fix and aspects of the site that we need to be more deliberate about—on both the business side and the editorial side—and we’re at the point where this needs and deserves someone’s full-time attention.
If you have any questions or concerns you can reach me by email. If you’d like to support us as we enter this new chapter, please consider becoming a Tone Madison Sustainer or signing up for our weekly email newsletter. We at Tone Madison are grateful for this community’s support, and we look forward to bringing you even more journalism and other programming in the future.