Artvoice revamps as it celebrates 25 years

Sep 25, 2015

Twenty-five years ago, a Buffalo native returned to his hometown with a vision to create an alternative newspaper that would provide a political voice and focus on the arts.  Today Artvoice features edgy journalism and coverage of the region's cultural and arts community.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley met with Artvoice Publisher Jamie Moses as he prepares for a 25th anniversary party to be held Saturday in an old industrial site.

Jamie Moses, Publisher/Founder of Artvoice, stands along the Buffalo River off of South Park Avenue where he will host his 25th anniversary party this weekend.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Jamie Moses removes a chain lock to open up a a door inside the former industrial building on South Park Aveneue. It's along the bank of the Buffalo River, next door is Riverworks and the construction site of Solar City.

"What would you say is your best strength?" asked Buckley. "Sincerity. That we really care about Buffalo. That our mission, from day one, has been 'this is great town' and we want to do everything we can to make greater," answered Jamie Moses.

It seems like an odd spot to hold an anniversary bash, but Moses believes its a perfect indoor and outdoor venue for his “Quarter in the Nickel City" party.

Site at Buffalo River where Artvoice will host its 25th anniversary party.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"I thought that Artvoice should a new location and do what it has always done, which is kind of break new ground," Moses stated.

This celebration will feature interactive artists, DJ's, food trucks and plenty of live music  --  exactly the type of an event Artvoice would feature.

Moses's  passions for the arts emerge from his background growing up in Greenwich Village in New York City, where he played in bands, acted on stage and wrote plays.

"When I came back to Buffalo and the Courier was closed, The Buffalo News was the only paper and the wrote about -- everything was out of town -- out of town like your know Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin or Theater was the Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival. It was if they didn't know that things happened in Buffalo," said Moses. "The other thing was the Village Voice had a very strong political voice. It was started by Norman Mailer with very strong points of view and you know, I felt like we were missing that too. I didn't see a voice for the cultural/arts community and I didn't see a voice that came in with any kind of opinions to really help the city."

Moses says 25-years ago Artvoice wasn't taken seriously because it was free.

"And there was a general opinion that if you didn't pay for a paper it wasn't worth anything. Well 25-years later everyone expects their information for free, so free is good now," stated Moses.

Financially Artvoice relies on its advertisers financially. Over the past few years the newspaper hit fiscal troubles.  Last year several top staffers left, including editor Geoff Kelly, now the editor of competition to Artvoice -- The Public. 

Artvoice recently shut down for a few weeks for changes, but is now back in full operation. A source tells WBFO Artvoice will "take over the publishing of three" other small publications in South Buffalo, Lackawanna and Niagara Falls. The newspapers would share content with Artvoice. Moses confirmed a deal is in the works, but provided few details.

"We're working on a deal. It's not finalized yet, but it looks pretty good. I can't really talk about it," said Moses.

"You can't say who?, asked Buckley.

"I, in effect, would be the publisher title for the print publications, although I would only own Artvoice. I would not own the other ones, but I would make day-to-day decisions. We bring something to them and they bring something to us., They don't have any arts/cultural coverage and they have a lot more of the news hole, which we got weak on and I want to get back," responded Moses. 

"What would you say is your best strength?" asked Buckley. "Sincerity. That we really care about Buffalo. That our mission, from day one, has been 'this is great town' and we want to do everything we can to make greater," answered Moses.

Artvoice invites the community to its celebration starting at 5 p.m. Saturday the industrial spot along the bank of the Buffalo River at 1037 South Park to celebrate it's 25 anniversary.