Arts and music publisher Limelight Magazine rescued by new owners

Music and arts magazine Limelight has been thrown a lifeline after new owner, Limelight Arts Media, purchased the title for an undisclosed price.

Limelight Arts Media was founded by actuary Bruce Watson and specialist travel agent Robert Veel, whose company was one of the magazine’s regular advertisers.

Previous owner Andrew Batt-Rawden revealed his company was skirting liquidation early last month.

Limelight’s new owners Bruce Watson and Robert Veel (sitting) with editor Jo Litson and former owner Andrew Batt-Rawden.

“My other company, Academy Travel, is a regular advertiser in Limelight,” Veel told Mumbrella following the announcement. “Andrew very responsibly informed us of the situation the magazine was in, and that gave us the idea to look at the purchase.”

Veel, who also provided the funds to make sure the most recent issue was printed, said there will be no changes to staffing and former owner Andrew Batt-Rawden will remain with the company as a contractor.

“Andrew is the only person who is across all aspects of the magazine and has excellent contacts with performing arts companies,” said Veel. “He’ll be with us initially as a consultant and hopefully well into the future. It’s a big change for Andrew and we need to ensure he is as engaged as he was when he was the owner.”

Limelight Arts Media will be publishing 11 printed issues a year, alongside a website offering daily news, reviews of performances around Australia and feature articles.

Veel is a co-founder of Academy Travel and was previously the deputy director of Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education while Watson is an actuary and the founding director of Finity Consulting, an actuarial and insurance consultancy.

“Maintaining a publishing enterprise in this age of economic disruption is a challenge. It’s a miracle that Andrew managed to not just maintain, but improve the quality of Limelight at a time when magazines all around Australia were closing down.

“In the end he simply did not have enough capital to implement any of a number of strategies to ensure the survival of Limelight. Bruce and I are able to bring not just working capital, but diverse and complimentary business skills to the operation. Bruce has decades of experience in the financial sector, whereas I am highly experienced in creating and marketing cultural and educational experiences to Australian audiences.

“With financial security we can work more assiduously on expanding the subscriber base, expanding the distribution channels and fully realising the potential of the masthead in the digital sphere.”

Limelight editor Jo Litson added: “The staff of Limelight are fiercely committed to the publication and its website, and we have been overwhelmed by the messages of support we have received from the arts community in the past few weeks.

“To have two such passionate supporters as Robert and Bruce, who bring a wealth of business expertise with them as well as a love of the arts, can only be of great benefit to Limelight and I am very excited about our future. Now, we just need more of the people who value what we offer to take out a subscription!”

Batt-Rawden told Mumbrella he has plenty of other plans as he looks forward to life after being a media owner: “I’m thinking ‘Limelight, The Opera’ would be quite something to write.”


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