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Imaging Trade association IDEA set to close down activities

The Imaging & Digital Entertainment Association (IDEA) has announced that it will wind up operations in June 2022 after more than 40 years as the 'peak industry body' (sic). Originally a Photographic Industry Association, it struggled to adequately deal with the digital revolution; thinking that solely digital image capture cameras were the answer, delaying the shift from silver-halide to inkjet, toner and other digital for hard copy, and blindsided by Smartphone image capture, facebook albums, instagram, pinterest and so forth. A fine association in its heyday; it is yet another salutory lesson in a 'Kodak moment.'

 

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Formerly the PIMA, IDEA staged some excellent imaging trade expos in its day

In the same month that Messe Cologne announced the end of the biennial Photokina exhibition, IDEA has decided to close down in 2022. Never culturally able to fully capitalise on the digital revolution, IDEA and its forebears stuck largely to traditionalist photographic industry thinking, despite staging some excellent trade exhibitions that combined digital capture with digital output. The inability to hold these exhibitions has had a bearing on the decision to cease operations. One of the  oversights of the photographic industry, was largely ignoring the graphic arts-driven photobook phenomenon, prefering to adhere to outmoded 'D&P' models of people bringing film and files into a shop for prints. This market is now a bottom-feeder commodity with 5 and 8 cent prints by BigW and Harvey Norman outlets - in all but the enthusist area. The few that adapted to consumer demand for digitally-printed Photobooks, enlargements and canvas prints, have prospered.

The lesson was written 2 decades ago, when someone inside Adobe said "Whoever controls the data, controls the market." It's not who 'captures' the data, or who 'creates' it, but who controls data - and the marketing thereof.

It's sad news, particularly as the publisher of Wideformat Online transferred from the photographics industry and into the graphic arts in the 1980s - having witnessed the first Canon and Sony digital cameras, Macs and digital printers at a newspaper trade show in Las Vegas. Now newspapers are in trouble too - the only constant is change. The IDEA announcement reads:

 

IDEA President, James Murray, said the decision was made at the recent AGM and General Meeting.

“We came to the conclusion that despite the value the association has brought to the industry, IDEA would not be financially viable beyond Project 2020 without a new income stream of major events, such as exhibitions,” Mr Murray said.

Project 2020 is a two-stage initiative whereby IDEA sponsors a member’s activity. Member companies were invited to submit a promotional or advertising concept that IDEA would contribute sponsorship funding towards.

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James Murray - IDEA President

Aligning with IDEA’s strategy and purpose, the goal is not only to amplify and extend community awareness of photography, videography and their related products and services, but to also inspire consumers to recognise the unique features on cameras that are not available on mobile phones. One hundred percent of allocated industry funds are being used for the initiative to engage and promote imaging.

Five member companies responded to Project 2020 but due to COVID-19 have all had to postpone activity until 2021, with all projects to be concluded and sponsorships claimed by 31 March 2022.

Mr Murray said IDEA’s income stream has previously come from member fees and The Digital Show but as the industry has transitioned the association’s membership base has experienced reduced numbers.

“Leading up to the current ‘preservation of funds’ operating mode, IDEA invested heavily to bring new value to the industry, aside from The Digital Show. The launch of D Hub brought together industry marketing minds, while the VIVID partnership to launch the Digital Playground also proved to be a great success.

“However, it became clear that while there was a strong desire for an industry association, the engagement in cooperative activity between brands was diminishing,” Mr Murray said.

In 2013, IDEA moved to a biennial Digital Show. While the 2015 event was very successful with record numbers of consumers attending, the costs proved to be unsustainable for IDEA and the industry. The 2017 show was postponed, and by 2019 it was evident the show was no longer viable.

At the 2019 AGM, it was noted that should IDEA be in a position where the preserved funds are exhausted, the association would be wound up. It was decided at the 2020 General Meeting that regardless of funds remaining, IDEA will close by 30 June 2022.

In keeping with IDEA’s constitution, any remaining funds after disbursements will be transferred to a charitable organisation decided by the directors.

Mr Murray said the decision to wind down the association was carefully considered.

“IDEA has a long and proud history that has focussed on representing our great industry – and there have been a few name changes along the way as well.”

The Photographic Industry Council (PIC) was born in 1977 before later changing its name to the Photographic Industry Marketing Association (PIMA). The Photographic & Imaging Council of Australia Ltd (PICA) launched in 1995 and as the industry shifted into a new age, the Imaging & Digital Entertainment Association (IDEA) evolved from 2011.

“While 2022 will be the end of an era for IDEA, I would like to acknowledge and thank those members who have not only supported the association’s vision over the past four decades, but also the many exceptional industry events that aimed to promote and help drive our category,” Mr Murray added.

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Our friends at Inside Imaging, Keith & Will Shipton, have catalogued other photographic industry happenings that have ceased during 2020 here.