I’ve been a long time member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP). This association has a lot in common with our own industry associations. In both instances members are professionals operating in their field but are not required to be licenced. These associations are run by members who make up a governing board (national) with state branches. They make their money from memberships and conferences (with expos). They run an accreditation and an awards program.
COVID has wiped out or severely impacted their conferences. Many members have been so badly affected by COVID that they have shut down their business or left the industry – this in turn affects income from membership fees.
This week the AIPP board announced that they were shutting down – this is part of the announcement.
The last two years have presented us all with unimaginable challenges. Unfortunately, many photography businesses and creative arts organisations have been forced to close during this time and our beloved AIPP has not been immune from the financial hardship faced by so many. AIPP, a Public Company Limited by Guarantee, is appointing an Administrator to facilitate the orderly administration and closure of the AIPP in a professional and dignified manner to respect and preserve its history and legacy.
In addition, all AIPP Committees and Chapters are disbanded effective immediately. We sincerely thank our hardworking volunteers for their generosity, energy and dedication in serving AIPP members. AIPP has relied on volunteers since its inception and their efforts have built the culture of sharing and working for the greater good within the AIPP.
I’ve said before that in a digital age all associations are vulnerable, except for two reasons; first, their members are required to be registered in order to practice in their particular field e.g. medical practitioners, trades (plumbing, electrical, etc.) and others. Or secondly, they are setup to provide a powerful lobbying voice for their industry, e.g. mining, construction, etc.
Any PCO can verify that the cashed up associations that have big conferences are medical, pharma, mining, etc. Not associations that represent creative industries such as photography, events, music and the arts.
So what is the future of our event industry associations? They provide accreditation that is only useful for individual development, mostly our clients neither know nor care if we are accredited – they just look at results. In my career as an event manager and as a photographer I have never been asked if I was accredited or a member of any professional body, clients only want to see proof of my PLI and Workers Comp.
Dealings with governments during COVID has proved to be extremely difficult and met with limited success, nowhere near the success of the construction or aviation industries (and mining was mostly unaffected) – the professional lobbying body representing our industry is BECA which operates at a the federal level and as we quickly found out the real decisions affecting our industry were not taken by the federal government.
Yes we love to get face to face with our industry peers, to share ideas, celebrate awards and to network, but in a post COVID era will that be enough?