A Chat With: Bido Lito!

The beating heart of Liverpool’s music, arts and cultural scene for more than a decade now (and LCR Pride Foundation’s newest media partner) the team at Bido Lito! has taken every challenge the pandemic has thrown at it on the chin. As it emerges from the other side, ready to celebrate and support the Liverpool City Region’s creatives, we caught up with the team for a quick chat about survival, fresh formats and what we can expect from them this year…

It’s been quite a year for BL! How have you managed to keep the mag going in such challenging circumstances?

We count ourselves really lucky to still be publishing. With 90% of our stockists closing and advertisers not operating, it’s been a testing time for a physical free sheet magazine! We’re massively appreciative of our members whose support through subscription fees, who just by virtue of giving us validation to keep going, have been invaluable. Partners who we’ve forged strong relationships with over the years have also shown fantastic loyalty and being successful with our Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) bids has meant we’ve survived and given us a boost for what is sure to be a tough period still to come.

Your recent fresh look and format has come as a result of those challenges – can you tell us a bit more about that?

The magazine has undergone a few changes over its 10 years in existence, some large and some subtle. In 2017 we went to the folded format which many got used to, and some didn’t! The fold allowed us to have a large format design with plenty of words and space for our hugely talented writers, photographers, illustrators and designers’ work to shine. With the printer we have used for the past four years reducing their capacity as a result of the recent circumstances, we needed to rethink the format again. We’ve lost the fold, kept the larger format and made some tweaks to the cover design. Hopefully people like it!

What have been the highlights and lowlights for you over the past year?

There’s been too many lowlights to count but losing such important venues as Sound Food + Drink and the Zanzibar will hit the community hard. It’s so damaging to artist opportunities to lose those grassroots spaces. On a more national or international scale, the glaring omission of visa-less travel for musicians in the Brexit deal was another blow from which everyone will suffer.

Before the pandemic, we were almost taking for granted getting a new issue of the magazine out every month, after doing it for so long. The five magazines (plus lockdown zine and 2020 Journal) that we’ve managed to put out have all felt like small triumphs in the climate of the last 12 months. Our friends (Bido Lito! co-founders Craig and Chris) opening the Future Yard venue in Birkenhead is also very exciting.

You’re joining us this year as a media partner – how are you feeling about that and what opportunities do you think this will bring?

I hope that we’ve always been supportive of Liverpool’s LGBT+ community but LCR Pride Foundation do such amazing and interesting work, so working closely will bring a whole new set of projects, initiatives and issues to light for us. I’m excited for the important stories we can present to our readers and the creative collaborations we can produce.

So tell us about the CRF funding you’ve recently received, was it a surprise? How will the money be used?

We went for the very minimum amount available for both tranches of the funding. We are a very small organisation and obviously don’t have the overheads of a Philharmonic or large scale festival. The funding has been nothing short of a lifeline to Bido Lito! in the format everyone knows it. I’d hope that we would have continued in some guise without the funding, but it would have looked very different. Working on the basis of being funded is new territory for us as we’ve always existed working in partnership with advertisers and various projects as a creative agency. So it probably was kind of a surprise but Arts Council England do great work with a tough job ensuring funding goes to organisations that are deserving of it and hopefully we do play an important role in the city’s creative culture.

Do you have any hot tips for any new LGBT+ musicians and artists from the region that we should be watching?

In this issue we’ve got Foxen Cyn, an electronic artist very much treading their own path. Many of your readers will know about Felix Mufti-Wright, who is a fantastic poet, playwright and activist. And an artist who has only come onto my radar recently is Jeztls, who is a PC Musician doing some unusual and interesting things. In terms of projects that celebrate the LGBT+ community, it’s always fascinating to see what Eat Me and Preach are up to and it’s great to see Sonic Yootha is making a return.

Our theme this year is “From Now On” which asks organisations and individuals to pledge action to support and celebrate the LGBT+ community, what do you pledge to change, from now on?

For us it will be to ensure we consider the LGBT+ community throughout the production process of our magazine and outputs, from contributors, through partners, to those represented on the pages. To keep up the momentum and enact long lasting change it’s important to not neglect any aspect and have diverse representation throughout as much as possible.

What’s coming next for Bido Lito! and how can people get involved and support the magazine?

In terms of getting involved, we’re excited to begin another programme of our writer’s programme, Bylines, at the end of this month. It’s always great to meet a new set of writers who want to engage with the city’s creative community.

We’ve also just launched a survey to get feedback on our distribution network. We want to hear from as many people as possible, so as many people as possible who want to, can pick up Bido Lito!

The best way to support us is by becoming a member (and you’ll get a lovely welcome gift as well as the mag to your door each issue and the end of year journal!) but just signing up to our weekly newsletter is also a great way of keeping in the loop and getting to know what we’re all about!

Visit Bido Lito! online here.


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LCR Pride Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales, no 1185167. Registered Company 11754074.