The Peel raises funds after print budget cut due to COVID-19

Tucker Wulff, Associate A&C Editor

Budget cuts and stay-at-home orders are forcing members of App State’s student-run literature and arts review to rethink spring semester goals as the academic year comes to a close.  

The Peel publishes student art online in the fall and spring semesters and a print edition at the close of the academic year in April. 

The biggest complication COVID-19 has created for members of The Peel is unexpected difficulty in budgeting the print publication, said Sadie Maddock, editor-in-chief of The Peel. 

“The university has had to cut back on funding in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and they have other expenses that they didn’t think they’d have,” Maddock, a senior electronic media and broadcasting major said. “And so, the budget for the print publication is no longer available.”

In response to the budget cuts, The Peel started pursuing other forms of funding, said prose editor Molly Thomas. 

Thomas said the editorial board immediately started planning and asking themselves if there is a way they could print their final issue.  

“The university can be somewhat particular with fundraising,” Thomas, a junior double majoring in english literature and political science said. “You have to get certain things cleared, but they gave us the go ahead on crowdfunding and selling ads, which is what we’re trying to do now.”

Maddock and Thomas both said they are surprised by the success of the crowdfunding and hope to create some form of print release. They also mentioned the possibility of a pre-order option or delayed release in the fall. 

The Peel usually prints 2,000 copies of the publication and provides them for free to students. The cost for the organization to print the publication as they normally would is close to $7,000, Maddock said. 

“Realistically speaking, I didn’t think we could reach that goal,” Maddock said. “But there are different steps along the way in terms of how many books to print or different design decisions that can reduce the costs.” 

As the academic year ends, Thomas said she is worried about funding for next year’s publication as well. 

“App (State) hasn’t really let its organizations know if they will get funding for next year,” Thomas said. “And that’s something that’s worrisome.” 

To celebrate the physical publication and the year, The Peel usually hosts a final release event where the print issue is distributed, Maddock said. 

“(The final release event) is kind of a big deal,” Maddock said. “And we spend all year planning for it.” 

Maddock said creating a virtual release event is another challenge the organization is facing.

The release event, usually held at Hatchet Coffee, includes an art gallery, performances by musicians and readings from poets to celebrate the publication. It usually draws a “huge turnout,” Maddock said. 

“It’s definitely our largest event,” Maddock said. “Last year … it was completely packed for three hours straight.” 

To substitute for the typical release event festivities, Maddock said she and other members of the editorial board plan to create a video that compiles performances, readings and visual pieces and will host a Zoom meeting for community members to join and watch together. 

The Peel’s members hope the Zoom session will become an open space for volunteer-style performances and a general conversation but plans beyond the video have not been finalized, Maddock said.

Hannah Hagler, a junior visual artist published in The Peel, said she and her friends attend the release event every spring and it is a “highlight” of her semester, so she is excited to attend the virtual release as well. 

“I’m honestly so glad (The Peel is) still doing something,” Hagler, an art education major said. “I’m interested to see how they’ll arrange it all.”

In addition to budgeting and release event complications, The Peel is also looking for new editorial board members. However, applications for editorial board positions have seen “less engagement overall,” Thomas said. 

“I think that so much is up in the air,” Thomas said. “I don’t think anybody knows for sure that we’ll be returning to campus in fall.” 

Community members can donate to The Peel’s GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funds-for-our-print-publication to support the organization’s efforts in providing a print publication. 

Sadie Maddock is a member of The Appalachian Editorial Board.