Three Fold Proposal
to the Knight Foundation | January 5, 2020


Summary

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent publication that is free, thoughtful, and for the community. Our journal presents critical perspectives on arts, culture, and society, in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film, and music.

Existing in between the spryness of the news and more exploratory points of view, Three Fold responds to the community need for dialogue and support. As a friend and colleague recently wrote: “Great long poems create space for contradiction, drifting, deepening, dailiness, loss, epiphany, and revival.” That is the kind of space we are manifesting with this publication.


Who We Are

This project is a collaborative effort. Last year, a volunteer collective of editors, including artists, authors, activists and curators, was organized to oversee the content in each of their respective sections with total autonomy. Our contributors are multinational and multigenerational, from Detroit and beyond. For example, the debut issue, released in November, included a historiography on the Malian griot by native Detroiter and scholar Nubia Kai; a multimedia performance by Palestinian-American dancer/choreographer Leyya Tawil; an in-depth conversation with octogenarian bass player Hakim Jami; and a dossier on moving image artist Ephraim Asili, who is just beginning to receive national attention for his work.

The Three Fold Editorial Advisory  Board is comprised of artists and writers at the top of their fields who provide guidance regarding our ethos and direction. Additionally, the publication has partnered with leaders in the region, Media City Film Festival and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, in the promotion and distribution of an online archive of important new cinematic works and a political podcast by veteran activists based in Detroit and California.


Further information about our staff and advisory board is available in the appendix.


Goals

  • To publish writing with lasting literary value

  • To connect Detroit artists, writers, and thinkers with colleagues across the country and overseas 

  • To strengthen ties between youth and elders by publishing writing by a diverse range of voices at different stages of growth

  • To push the arts forward by commissioning new creative works

  • To provide space for informative, reflective pieces by eminent experts that are not topical or time-sensitive, and thus less likely to be published in other forums


Statement of Need
The need for Three Fold in our region is great, but the issues at play are far from insurmountable. Our journal was established to address these shortcomings in our region: 

  1. A lack of media support for the arts in Detroit, especially genuine, substantive critique, and the underrepresentation of voices of Detroit’s Black majority. Three Fold Advisory Board is one hundred percent POC- and artist-controlled. Contributors to Issue No. One were 50 percent POC.

  2. The media landscape in Detroit focuses on local content by local writers. Three Fold is cultivating a community beyond geographic borders to expand Detroit’s cosmopolitan profile and to safeguard against a strong regional perspective devolving into provincialism. Rather than being “about” Detroit, Three Fold showcases ideas and issues that are germane to the vast interests of Detroiters.

  3. Standards and modes of journalism nationwide responding to the art world at-large are insufficient (i.e. “top ten” lists, blog posts and blurbs, descriptive criticism that opines without judgement, Q and A’s, gossip masquerading as reporting). Three Fold sets itself apart in its multidisciplinary approach. Noteworthy scholarship by seasoned commentators is balanced with perspectives on the emerging zeitgeist by a younger generation of writers and art in a variety of forms (screendance, spoken word recordings, video art, music, etc). Intercontextuality—the relationship between various forms of writing and art—creates new and surprising juxtapositions. 

  4. Detroit does not celebrate its history and talent adequately. There are Detroit artists of significance in all fields who will not be with us much longer. Many of them have legacies much greater than their acclaim, and some are still creating important work. We feel it is imperative that there are advocates for both these elders’ well-being and their work’s significance. 

  5. When one aspect of the arts ecosystem is fractured, others are also fragile. By circulating thought-provoking commentary and meeting social and aesthetic challenges with know-how, we inspire conversation and advocate that patronage of the arts is a civic duty.


Research
We have extensively researched historic magazines, newspapers and publishers in Detroit. Our efforts are inspired by pivotal projects in the community and a couple in New York: 

  • Straits (1980s) A low-cost but evocatively designed journal edited by art critic Glen Mannisto that showcased poetry and visual art by Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists

  • Solid Ground (1980-87) An intellectually rigorous Black-focused magazine covering mostly music and politics, edited by Kofi Notambu

  • Detroit 1981, Detroit 1982 and Detroit 1989 Dense, spiral-bound collection of b/w art and writing, curated by artist Sherry Hendricks

  • Broadside Lotus Press (1965-present) A merging of two historic Detroit publishing houses: Broadside Press, founded by Dudley Randall in 1965 and Naomi Long Madgett's Lotus Press, founded in 1972. They are the oldest Black-owned presses in the United States still in operation.

  • Brooklyn Rail (2000-present) Monthly publication based in New York City that provides an independent, international forum for arts, culture, and politics. The journal, in addition to featuring local reporting; criticism of music, dance, film, and theater; and original fiction and poetry, covers contemporary visual art in particular depth. 

  • Ugly Duckling Presse (1990s-present) Publishing house in Brooklyn that favors emerging, international, and “forgotten” writers. Its books, chapbooks, artist’s books, broadsides, and periodicals often contain handmade elements, calling attention to the labor and history of bookmaking.



Metrics for Success

  • Quantitative shift in social media followers and e-newsletter subscriptions

  • Feedback from community stakeholders, including constructive criticism

  • Reaching an audience beyond the geographic borders of the region, including print subscriptions and local distribution sites

  • Annually increasing our ability to commission art

  • Sustained interest from contributors and growing readership in a diverse range of communities

  • Increase in earned and contributed income streams


Audience Demographics
Our primary demographic is comprised of native Detroiters, transplants, ex-pats, and those we call “honorary” residents (individuals who’ve spent a lot of time here) of all ages and socioeconomic status. Our slightly secondary demographic is the international arts and literary communities. In truth, our readership is not defined by age, class, race, or geographic location. Instead, we believe our community is localized in that is made up of those who share or identify with a vision or mindset, who are interested in transitioning to an era that clarifies our priorities and sense of responsibility. As the world examines the profound effects of technological advancement, economic imperialism  and racial injustice, Three Fold considers the ways that a materialistic mindset has contributed to our understanding of identity—especially as it pertains to the “value” of art and parameters of property, both intellectual and real. Our ideal reader thinks like a Detroiter; they understand through adversity that solutions are a collective endeavor.

Budget Summary
Three Fold has committed to publishing four issues in 2021 and then ramping up efforts in 2022 as a monthly journal. Our budget is flexible and adaptive. The model is scalable, from print-on-demand to robust distribution locally and beyond, depending upon how much funding can be raised. Currently we publish online-only because this seemed like an efficient, affordable, and effective means of operating during the continued pandemic; however, we are determined to publish in print in order to widen our local reach. As professionals with experience in the fields of journalism and publishing, we are ready and able to scale to print as soon as possible, should funding be available.

First and foremost, we are determined to pay our contributing artists and writers well. Writing is the backbone of our endeavor. We aim big by soliciting pieces by such recognizable scholars in the fields of arts and cultural critique as Fred Moten and Claire Bishop, while also supporting the professional growth of Detroit’s rising authors, poets, and journalists. Our secondary funding priority is design. Our inaugural issue last fall was designed in-house. With plans already in the works to improve the look, feel, and ease of utility of our online presence and move into print production, we need to hire a professional designer. Additionally, we are interested in developing new tools to interconnect community and working with a local, minority-owned community printer.

Our revenue stream is a mix between earned and contributed income. Three Fold is one facet of Trinosophes Projects, a nonprofit arts organization securing 501c3 status. For the past nine years, Trinosophes Projects has presented international, multidisciplinary programming in a brick-and-mortar space in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market district and recently launched a record label and publishing house. As such, our revenue stream is diversified, including earned income from café and retail sales as well as contributed income from private foundations, such as the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and small business grants, like the $10,000 Hartbeat of Mainstreet grant we have received in order to pivot our business model during the pandemic. Last spring, we met with a consultant in philanthropy who informed us that he believed foundations nationwide would be increasing their efforts to support artist-led initiatives due to the pandemic. With an influx of arts-based and journalistic funding becoming available to us (Andy Warhol Foundation, Creative Capital, etc), as well as grants supporting contributions by POC artists/ writers, and with the help of individual contributions both big and small, we can continue growing.



Appendix