In My Opinion: Nikki Simpson: Why Scotland needs an International Magazine Centre

NEARLY two years ago, I attended The Modern Magazine conference in London, which fell the day after the Scottish independence referendum.

Having just come away from my own magazine festival, Magfest, just two weeks previous, I was quite chuffed to hear Londoners discussing Magfest and pleased to hear everyone take a genuine interest in Scotland – not just from a political point of view, but with a real curiosity into the great things happening across the creative media industry.

Whichever way you voted, most people agree that the referendum was a fantastic marketing opportunity for Scotland and, for me, this positivity around magazine publishing, and Scotland, planted the seed for what I expect will be a lifelong project – to open and run an International Magazine Centre in Edinburgh, or the ‘IMC’ for short.

Let’s start with why Scotland needs the IMC.

First, to attract international magazine publishers to come and live and work in Scotland.

One of Scotland’s brilliant success stories is The Drum, a media and marketing magazine which began with a team of two working from a kitchen in Glasgow, and has now grown to a team of around 40 in Glasgow, a similar size in London, a New York office last year and a Singapore office planned for later in 2016.

That’s an impressive growth that could be matched by any ambitious publisher, and is already a reality for many on a global scale.

International publishers, digital and media organisations often set-up shop in London, so we need to give them a reason to come to Scotland, and one that isn’t just ‘it’s cheaper’.

The IMC is that reason.

Second, we watch the fantastic talent we train and nurture disappear as fast as you can say, ‘One-way to London’.

Scotland’s amazing – we all know it and we never stop talking about it, but often conclude with, ‘Yes, you’re right; London is wonderful and there’s probably no jobs here and you’d probably have the career of your dreams down south…’.

Let’s stop doing that and start building industry in Scotland that attracts people to stay.

The IMC does that.

So what does all this look like?

The possibilities are infinite, so, without being too prescriptive (and if you’ve additional ideas please do get in touch), the IMC will include:

* Office space, meeting space and hot-desking, acting as a hub for the creative media industries. That’s any industry associated with magazine publishing including but not limited to photography, advertising, design, journalism, marketing, illustration and magazine publishing itself. A proportion of this would be allocated to start-ups as an incubator and accelerator.

* A large events space, again targeted at but not limited to the creative media industries. Events will be promoted to the creative industries and the public.

* Exhibition space with both curated and invited exhibitions across the creative media industries – some of appeal to magazine geeks, some of general appeal to the public

* A magazine retail space with around 2,000 titles. Not only popular newsstand titles, but also membership, B2B, design-focussed, international, local, and – of course – Scottish magazines.

* A café and bar alongside a permanent magazine collection of the world’s best magazines.

I’ve spent the past year or so talking to publishers about the project, checking out the magazine scene in different cities, and discussing potential collaboration with numerous organisations.

Through the generous support and enthusiasm of several publishers, Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow universities and the PPA itself, we’ve raised £10,000 for a feasibility study for the IMC to be based in Edinburgh.

This is now available for tender on the Creative Scotland Opportunities website – if you’d like to work on the project, or would just like to know more, get in touch for the full brief or to chat it over – we can’t wait to get started.

Nikki Simpson is the business manager at PPA Scotland, the membership network for magazine publishers. Contact her at or on 0131 440 1472