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September 2014

THE story of LeftLion, which began in a flat on Mansfield Road more than a decade ago, runs backwards... and against the grain of magazine publishing trends.
In the beginning there was the website, in September 2003, followed a year later by a bi-monthly magazine.
After reaching a £10,000 fund-raising target through a five week Kickstarter campaign, the magazine will now be published monthly.
“We don’t plan on going weekly or daily,” laughs editor-in-chief Jared Wilson, who started LeftLion with two friends to celebrate Nottingham’s rich cultural offering.
 “It feels like it’s the right time to do this. A monthly magazine will be a lot better for Nottingham. And the team is ready for it.”
That team is six full-time employees and although Jared, 35, will soon be leaving his job as a copywriter at Nottingham Trent University to go full-time at LeftLion, drawing a salary for the first time, it has relied on voluntary contributions from writers, photographers, designers and other creatives for most of its life.
“When we started there was no independent magazine with an edge,” he says.
“FHP wasn’t a great magazine, City Life is for posh people.”
LeftLion prints 10,000 copies per issue, distributed around pubs, bars, clubs, shops and venues for free.
“They all go,” says Jared from Sherwood.
“If they didn’t we would print less.”
 The first edition featured Shane Meadows. Since then there have been interviews with Nottingham’s most famous musicians, actors, writers, designers, artists and more in 60 issues.
They include Sir Paul Smith, Carl Froch, Su Pollard, Torvill and Dean and Jake Bugg.
“My favourite ones have been Alan Sillitoe, we did the last interview with him, and Ray Gosling. They are the giants whose shoulders we are standing on.”
He adds: “Shane Meadows and Carl Froch are the only times we’ve done a cover photo,” highlighting the magazine’s principle of using an original cover design that incorporates a few of the key elements within each particular edition.

He adds: “There’s so much more to LeftLion than one interview. People will hopefully pick it up to read a number of features within it.
“For example, the next time we run an interview with Jake Bugg, in that same magazine will be two or three up and coming musicians. LeftLion is about promoting culture in the city, it’s not just the icons or the biggest names.”
 Early on they would interview the famous names coming to the city, like a regular entertainment guide, but its chief focus has been on local creatives.
“There’s enough to shout about in Nottingham as it is,” he says.
The Kickstarter campaign included items donated from a number of LeftLion’s ‘friends’, for readers to buy, such as signed Jake Bugg CDs (£100), a signed Paul Smith print (£1,000) and an original ‘Byron Clough’ canvas merging the faces of the two local legends (£500), to a gig or meal in your home.

The campaign, which ends tomorrow, still has a few items left.
“More than 200 people have donated to the campaign, all of who will be named in the first monthly edition,” says Jared, in the LeftLion office in Stoney Street, also home to Just The Tonic HQ and gig promoters I’m Not From London.
“It was started on my credit card and it was advertising that kept us going. The only funding we’ve had started last year and that was from the Nottingham Jobs Fund.
“We’ve just secured some more funding from the Arts Council to do interactive print, which is the sci-fi stuff I used to dream of as a kid. From November you’ll be able to hover your phone over the magazine and it will start talking to you, with videos popping up or audio.”
These sort of projects, part of LeftLion Extended, that has so far included a local music CD compilation called Notts What I Call Music and branded tea towels, are what Jared will be focusing on in his new full-time role.
“It's humbling that a free magazine like us can get such a great level of support from the Nottingham public.
“We would like to thank everyone for the support we have received on this campaign.”

LeftLion will be monthly as of the next issue, available from the end of September.

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