Guardian News and Media has launched a new membership scheme, an events programme and announced plans for a new “space” to host its events in.
The newspaper group is inviting members to become "friends", free of charge, "partners" for £15 a month or "patrons" for £60 a month.
The latter group will enjoy “priority booking and discounts of Guardian Live events” as well as “a backstage pass to The Guardian including newsroom tours, print site visits and insight into the editorial process”.
The scheme is “the latest step in GNM’s transformation from a national daily print newspaper to a world-leading media brand”.
Guardian Live events – which will include discussions, debates, interviews, keynote speeches and festivals – are to take place at “venues across the UK”.
But a 30,000 square foot hub venue – a redevelopment of the Midland Goods Shed at King’s Cross – is to be opened in autumn 2016, GNM said.
The publisher is working with Birkbeck, Central Saint Martins, Indytute, 5×15 and other organisations to reopen the Grade II-listed building.
For signing up, "friends" are kept up to date with news from the “Guardian Membership community”. "Partners" are offered the same services in addition to discounts of events and priority booking.
"Patrons" get the added benefit of newsroom tours and “will help shape the Guardian Membership community through hosting their own Guardian Live events”. Patrons are expected to be individuals rather than organisations, and will not be paid for "hosting" events.
GNM has also announced plans to launch the membership scheme in the United States and Australia.
People who sign up now will become “founder members with the chance to have a greater say in the development of the programme”.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “We’re very excited to be launching Guardian Membership which will help bring readers closer to our journalism. This is just the beginning of our membership journey as we seek to develop the scheme in the open, in collaboration with the readers who share our values.
"There’s plenty more to come; from incredible seasons of thought-provoking live events, a greater emphasis on building our global community, through to the opening of our flagship Guardian Space building in the Autumn of 2016.”
GNM deputy chief executive David Pemsel said: “The Guardian’s strategy has long-focused on getting to know our readers better and offering them more ways to engage with, and pay for, our award-winning journalism.
"Membership will enable us to deliver new consumer revenue streams and to bring our journalism to life. It is about finding new, meaningful ways to monetise our huge audience of over 100 million global unique browsers, while protecting and affirming our commitment to open journalism without building walls around our content.”
The Guardian previously launched a membership scheme in 2010 called Extra which also offered access to live events and newsroom visits. It was originally intended to charge £25 a year for that scheme, but instead it remained free.
Press Gazette understands that the 170,000 members of Extra will be encouraged to sign up to Guardian Membership.