- Vacuum newspaper
The Vacuum is a free monthly newspaper published in
Belfast, Northern Irelandby the arts organisation Factotum. Each issue is themed and contains critical commentary about the city and broader cultural issues. 15,000 copies of the paper are produced and distributed in bar, cafes and other public spaces. The paper was first published in January 2003.
A Topical Newspaper
Each monthly issue of 'The Vacuum' is centred on a topical theme, to which readers are encouraged to contribute essays and articles. This assures a free forum of content, from social commentary, through satire to farce, focussed on one area of discussion. Rarely does The Vacuum avoid controversy, no matter what its chosen issue. Some of the past topics have included:
*'Food and Drink'
*'The End' (in the month it was threatened with closure, see below)
The most recent issue tackled 'Boredom'
In the past The Vacuum has published new writing by Northern Irish writers such as
Glenn Patterson, Leontia Flynnand Newton Emerson.
In June 2004 the paper caused great controversy when it published two issues themed 'God' and 'Satan'. Based on one complaint from a member of the public, some Belfast City councillors (
Belfast City Councilfunded Factotum) denounced the publication as "filth" that was "encouraging devil worship".Fact|date=October 2007 The council then withheld an agreed funding allocation of £3,300 until the newspaper apologised to the citizens of Belfast for any offence caused. The Vacuum responded by holding a tongue-in-cheek, city-wide 'Sorry Day' in December 2004.
Richard West, one of the paper's editors (along with Stephen Hackett) challenged the Council's demand for an apology in the High Court as a breach of the
European Convention on Human Rights. In May 2006 the case was lost.Factotum, the publishers of The Vacuum where chosen to represent Northern Ireland by Hugh Mulhollandat the prestigious Venice Biennalein 2005. They also received the Paul Hamlyn Award for visual arts in 2005.
The offices of The Vacuum are in the
Cathedral Quarter, Belfast. There is a historical precedent for literary satire in the area; in the 19th Century, the area was home to a "Punch" style satirical magazine, the The Northern Whig.
Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
The Northern WhigNewspaper
News Links on The Vacuum
* [http://www.indexonline.org/en/news/articles/2004/4/n.ireland-magazine-s-penance-in-defence-of-f.shtml Index on Censorship]
* [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1361333,00.html The Guardian Newspaper]
* [http://www.secularism.org.uk/belfastmagazineinlandmarkfreespe.html National Secular Society]
* [http://www.thevacuum.org.uk Vacuum Homepage]
* [http://www.factotum.org.uk Factotum Homepage]
* [http://www.sorryday.com Sorry Day]
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