As this year of GUM comes to a close, I want to reflect on the achievements of this year’s team and on behalf of everyone on the team, I want to thank you for reading and engaging with us over the last year. We’ve had an incredibly successful year and it feels almost impossible to condense that success into one sign off, but I’m going to try. Before I dive into these accomplishments, there are some thanks I want to give.
I want to thank everyone who has shared their views and beliefs with us over this year – it’s not always easy to say what you think, especially when there are so many influences and systems that teach you that your thoughts aren’t valuable. I hope we made it a little easier for people to express the things they’ve always wanted to express. I want to thank everyone on the GUM team for their contributions this year, everyone has given their utmost and I admire and appreciate every member of the team so much. It was a real blessing to have worked with and have been supported by such creative and hard working individuals.
In particular, I’d like to shine a light on our coordinators and digital team: I am endlessly appreciative of the tireless dedication that our Digital Coordinator Nina displays, she has kept me on track all year long! While the digital savvy of our Website Manager Julia and the aesthetic knowledge and editing skills of our Social Media Manager Jemma have had me in continuous awe. The Digital Team has been working right up until the very end and has surpassed every expectation in engaging with our contributors and wider community.
I’d like to thank Siam, our Content Coordinator, for her boundless dedication with many nights of editing into the wee hours and for the time and energy she gave to our BAME IDENTITIES project. I’d like to thank Florence, our Visuals Coordinator, whose integrity has taught me valuable lessons. Her commitment to honouring contributors’ visual creations is exceptionally admirable. I’d like to thank Charlotte, our Business Manager, who puts on the best magazine launches in Glasgow. Her organisation and business savvy always meant that I had one less thing to worry about.
To the content team, visuals team, and business team, I was endlessly impressed with your creativity and commitment in trying to make GUM a more inclusive space.
As a collective, our ethos is that we are “an inclusive platform for all voices” and I firmly believe we have fulfilled this promise. I am proud that we have given space to perspectives that often go unseen and remained conscious of representation, with members from the BAME, LGBTQ+, and working-class communities in particular, always reflected in the pitches provided at our meetings. Our ‘BAME IDENTITIES’ project and our ‘Working Class Solidarity’ series are a true testament to this promise. Furthermore, we introduced the inclusion of pronouns for each contributor, content warnings for articles where relevant, and descriptions of visuals for Art and Photography. We responded to our readers to align with accessibility needs, including changing the colour scheme of our website in response to feedback on its accessibility for the visually impaired. We have consistently been critical of ourselves by reflecting upon our audience and adjusting where needed.
With our goal to diversify our demographic, this year we developed a total rebrand through a new logo, website, and renovation of social media platforms to engage with a more gender-neutral readership. I am proud to state that our rebranded aesthetic has shifted our audience from 93% female readers to 62%, marking a 30% increase of Instagram followers with a monthly reach of ca. 13k, and ca. 19k on Facebook. Another change we developed this year was a restructuring of our team, dividing roles into 4 central cogs: Content, Visuals, Digital Media, and Business. We introduced Coordinators to lead each sub-team, which has shared the workload allowing for each member to focus their efforts on their skill sets. Our team provided a variety of perspectives, we even introduced a new Art and Photography section to accommodate for our contributors and teammates who communicate visually rather than verbally.
We have fostered a creative community by hosting a string of socials, everything from halloween life drawing, to bingo, to skateboarding sessions, to an abandoned factory photography walk. One event I am particularly proud of was our collaborative discussion with theGIST, “Art and Science: Dismantling the Binary”, which was hosted by two award winning science communicators to encourage scientists that they are creative and that they should partake in the magazine. Our first launch party raised the most money GUM has ever generated for a launch, raising over £700 pounds and we even produced our own merchandise as part of fundraising efforts. This allowed everyone who has been involved with GUM to have a memento of their experience.
2020 presented many challenges to us as a publication, but we responded to these challenges with calm and clarity. Our response to COVID was to create a collective diary where members of the community could share their experiences of the pandemic. In respect of the Black Lives Matter movement, I am determined that a plan be worked out with the next team to ensure continuous space is given to education on racial issues.
In the last moments that I have this platform, all I want to say is: thank you. This opportunity has given me more than I could have ever asked for. It makes me quite emotional when I reflect upon how much it has given me, I have grown leaps and bounds because of this experience. Leading a platform which holds space for people’s creative growth has been deeply fulfilling and something I consider a calling. I gave my heart and soul to this platform and I hope everyone can feel that. It fills me with the deepest joy that I was a part of making people’s narratives and voices seen and heard. I’ve had the opportunity to finally manifest ideas that I had never been given space for. Leading this platform has made me appreciate who I am and how I can channel my energy to encourage others. I cannot communicate how enriching this experience has been and the knowledge that I have gained. Thank you GUM for this experience.
All my love,
[Image Credits: GUM Team. Edits by Nina Olsson (she/her)]