The status of Australian and New Zealand members of the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) is not clear following PMA’s sale of the association to Monarch Expositions, but local picture framing insider Frank Filipone told Photo Counter it could be a good thing for the local industry.
Frank, who publishes long-running framing trade magazine Profile and is involved in organising the annual Art & Frame trade exhibition said: ‘It looks like potentially a good thing for the industry. Of course the details are not out yet – what they will do with it, what they will do with the rest of the world – so we need to know more, but it very well could be much better for picture framers if the organisation is run more efficiently.’
He added that, ‘there’s always been at least some conflict between PMA and the PPFA.’
PPFA members have represented a significant portion of the PMA’s Australian membership – possibly more than half – with most new PMA members over the past few years coming from the ranks of picture framers.
Monarch Expositions is owned by Deborah Salmon and Bruce Gherman, who also run the successful and profitable West Coast Art & Frame Expo and publish Picture Framing magazine in the US.
PMA explained the decision to cut ties with its PPFA members in PMA Newsline: ‘Because the newly established strategic initiatives are directing us to focus our full attention on our core members – businesses in the photo imaging space – we made the decision to look at other avenues to ensure PPFA members would be well served and have their needs catered going forward.
‘Just as the photography industry is PMA’s core focus, the framing industry is [Monarch Exhibition’s.] We are very confident this move is in the best interest of both PMA and PPFA members.We could not have asked for a better new home for PPFA than Monarch Expositions.’
The PPFA conference in the US has been held in conjunction with the West Coast Art & Frame Expo and National Convention for several years.
PMA CEO Georgia McCabe was not certain how involved Monarch Expositions might be ‘on the ground’ in Australia and New Zealand.
‘I can’t speak to whether or not they will be involved in annual picture framers convention and trade show in Australia,’ she told PhotoCounter, ‘but I do know that they are working closely with some of the members to get their input.’
‘Monarch Exhibitions is really well respected in the industry,’ said Frank Filipone. ‘Their trade show is second to none – they are a good organisation. Whether the PPFA should be owned by a private organisation…well that’s just how it is.’
He said there were around 1000 picture framers remaining in Australia, with the industry having shrunk to less than half the size it once was.
Reaction from PPFA members on their forums site was cautiously optimistic, with most happy to see the PMA-PPFA marriage annulled, while others were curious about how the new organisation would operate under private ownership.
‘Best news I’ve heard for years!’ wrote former Australia/NZ PPFA chairperson, Ormond Williams. ‘Being out from under PMA has got to be the most positive step for PPFA in a very long time!
‘…Thanks to all the board members and any other people responsible for this outcome. I see positivity in this development and hopefully this will instill some enthusiasm in everyone involved!’
PMA’s Geogia McCabe told PhotoCounter that current Australian and New Zealand members who were PMA members will still retain their PMA membership through September 30, 2015: ‘We currently are on a Fiscal year that ends then,’ she wrote. ‘Monarch will be launching their new membership campaign shortly and going forward those that do renew will be under them.
‘If a framer who has interest in the photographic/imaging industry wants to be a member of PMA that is certainly an option. We are working with Monarch to possibly come up with a program that is affordable for both, however, nothing has been determined at this time. They are first handling all the necessary transitional details.’