Towers Literary and Arts Magazine in danger of shutting down


Potbelly Sandwich Works will hold a fundraiser for Towers Creative and Literary Arts Magazine Wednesday starting at 5pm.

By Jerene-Elise Nall

Towers Literary and Arts Magazine has published the work of NIU’s creative student minds since 1939; that’s over 70 years of history.

For the first time in the history of Towers, the arts and literary magazine is in danger of being shut down due to lack of funding.

Recent budget cuts by the Student Association, combined with ill-focused fundraising and budgeting plans on the part of the magazine in past years, threaten to tear the pages from the time-honored bindings of the literary magazine, said Cat Yimet, Co-Editor in Chief and senior English major.

The SA states on its website the student-run organization supports a variety of campus groups and activities, and funding is allocated through the organization to various groups on campus.

Because funds must be distributed to such a large variety of campus groups and organizations, budget cuts are sometimes necessary.

“It’s been the elephant in the room,” said Evan Syverson, junior English major and Co-Editor in Chief of Towers. “It really looms over everything.”

Yimet, who has worked with Towers for five years, recalled a time in which Towers had a much larger budget.

“My first two years here [2008-10], we had approximately $6,000 to print and launch the magazine,” Yimet said.

Currently, however, the budget for the arts and literary publication sits at $3,000 – half of what it used to be.

“It’s pretty much affected everything we’ve done,” Yimet said.

One of the first aspects of the magazine that the budget cuts hit was the physical quality of the magazine itself.

Syverson said this is an aspect Towers refuses to sacrifice.

“Our main goal is to try to maintain the quality of last year’s edition with less money,” he said. “We want it to look as professional as possible. The arts are something that can be difficult to take seriously if they’re not done professionally.”

Besides the magazine as a product, the budget cuts affect the inner workings of the publication.

“It affects the way we work with our submitters because we are obligated to have a $100 ‘Editor’s Choice’ award for each genre,” Yimet said. “We need $500 for that since we have five genres. We should be able to cover that through a few different fundraising outlets, but we still need to pay for the launch party and for the actual magazine to be printed.”

The possibility of the magazine’s budget running dry before the pressing of Towers’ 2012 edition continues to loom over the heads of the Towers publication crew.

“It has been the number one stress of the entire organization all year long,” Yimet said. “Worrying about whether or not we can even print is the main issue. The entire existence of our organization here at NIU is based around if we print. If we can’t print, then what have we been doing for a whole year?”

Partly because of the budget cuts, fundraising has become an increasingly important piece of the Towers puzzle.

“We didn’t do a lot of fundraising [last year],” Yimet said. “The 2010 magazine looked amazing, but it cost almost our entire budget. The editor in chief that year decided we were going to maximize the amount of money we had and use it to make the magazine really awesome. We had linen paper, really high quality photo paper and a really distinct layout…I’m assuming that before that, we had extra money at the end of the year, so that the SA got money back, and they could reassign that to us. Normally, it only takes about $4,000 to print, so we’d have an extra $2,000 to work with,” Yimet said.

Carl Nadig, junior English major and Towers publicity and fundraising chair, said the magazine focused much more intensely on its fundraising effort this year, which has included a bake sale in Reavis Hall as well as an open mic event at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Potbelly Sandwich Shop, 1013 W. Lincoln Highway.

Nadig said the open mic night event is both to raise funds for Towers and for the NIU community to showcase the fruits of its creative efforts.

“If you want to showcase or come play…if you want to showcase your art, that’s really cool,” he said. “Just bring your stuff. If you have any music or poetry that didn’t get published in Towers, that’s more than welcome.”

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from every purchase during the event goes to Towers.

“If you don’t have a lot of money, just come in and by a cookie, a drink, anything,” Nadig said. “Just come hang out and talk.”

The support of the NIU community is priceless to the staff and students who make Towers a possibility, Yimet said.

“I highly encourage staff and students to show up and show their support,” Yimet said. “If they don’t support this magazine, we may not be able to publish down the line.”