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AIPP: Who’s at the helm?

Something is happening at the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP). There is currently no one in the top leadership position!

The AIPP has announced a National Board re-structure consisting of new roles, the most noteworthy being replacing the President with a Chair. This means AIPP President, Louise Bagger, is stepping down from the now redundant role, with an incoming Chair yet to be announced.

The new AIPP Board Member roles have been allocated, with no Chair in sight.

The AIPP published a blog post, including a video featuring AIPP’s final National President explaining the reasons for the new board structure. Inside Imaging had some follow-up questions but didn’t receive a response before our weekly newsletter deadline.

Louise states that due to the ‘shifting goalposts’ and how business is now conducted differently, the AIPP ‘has come to realise that the overarching structure of AIPP needs to shift as well …to remain current, to remain relevant and to remain vigilant’.

‘As of now, AIPP will no longer hold an office position with a National President,’ she said. ‘We are, and have already made moves to transition to a board executive led by a Chair and Vice Chair – both with very specific roles and responsibilities and appointed under very specific pre-requisites. The position of AIPP Chair is yet to be confirmed and you may have already noticed in recent messaging that Felisha Mina will be the initial incumbent of AIPP Vice Chair. Stand by for further announcements on this front.’

Louise is now the Accredited Divison Head (Honours).

It’s not explained how exactly the AIPP Chair role differs from President. What’s known is the Chair will ‘concentrate on connecting the AIPP with the wider arts community. This new structure will assist AIPP in building stronger connections with arts organisations and funding bodies around the country’.

Inside Imaging asked whether the incoming Chair will be an AIPP member, or open to candidates outside the Institute? And whether there is already someone in the pipeline. A source not currently on the Board speculated whether the incoming Chair will have a background in arts/government funding, with an expertise in securing grants.

Towards the end of the video, Louise mentions there is a ‘new breed of members coming through our volunteer ranks, supported by long-standing members’. But there is no explanation who these new breed of members are, and where in the Institute they are volunteering. At the video’s conclusion, Louise signs off as the final AIPP President.

The video begs as many questions as it answers. It’s difficult to glean a clear picture of what’s happening with the AIPP Board, based on this blog post.

The next Chapter?

It’s worth highlighting the AIPP State Councils have been dissolved into Chapters, another marking of a new era for the Institute.

The AIPP relied heavily on State Councils to create operational divisions and serve members within a prescribed geographical area. State Councils organised events and fostered a local community. Chapters are geographical or genre-specific groups, and may be formed by five AIPP members or non-members. This new era opens the gates to ‘organisational’ non-pro members, such as recreational camera clubs, which will provide new funding opportunities for the AIPP.

‘Everyone can jump in, including amateurs. We’re taking away the word “professional” – so long as you’re image makers. It doesn’t matter, so long as you’re taking a photo you can be part of the whole thing,’ new Deputy Chair, Felisha Mina, told Inside Imaging earlier this month.’We also deeply acknowledge our existing and accredited members and the importance of events, and awards as we continue to evolve and grow.’

The AIPP’s revamped Silver Lining Awards (SLA) may offer an indication of how things will be different. The SLA, established for AIPP members last year during the nation-wide Covid shut down, is open to the general public and international photographers this year. It’s an Australian Photographic Society (APS) approved contest, with points going toward an APS member’s honours, in an effort to attract more entries from keen enthusiast photographers.

There is no word on the fate of the print-based Australian Professional Photography Awards or State Awards. The APPA website has no information on future plans. While ‘Silver Linings Awards’ and ‘AIPP’ and ‘AIPP Television’ have been registered with ASIC as business names (along with several chapters, such as ‘Greater Melbourne Chapter’), the APPAs has not been registered.

As for Chapters, the AIPP declined to share information with Inside Imaging‘s readership regarding how it all works, including the formation and funding process.

Every Readers’ Comment following our initial story are critical of the structural pivot towards Chapters. There is concern whether the Institute will still serve working professionals and if the changes are being carried forward in compliance with the AIPP constitution. The comments may represent a vocal disgruntled minority, but they do include former Presidents and board members.

A source informed Inside Imaging others, including current AIPP members and State Council representatives, share similar concerns and aren’t overly enthusiastic about the changes.

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Up until now the understanding has been that major structural changes require an amendment to the AIPP Constitution, the Institute’s ruling document. Amendments require AIPP members to pass a ‘special resolution’, which according to the Corporations Act requires 75 percent of members to vote in favour. This has historically been how the AIPP has rolled our changes.

For instance in 2018 the AIPP appointed a Constitution Committee to re-write the constitution to make both major and minor structural changes. It was considered a massive undertaking by the committee, and at the time the AIPP Board was extremely concerned about meeting the 75 percent voter turnout in favour. There was a real possibility the Institute would be trapped with an archaic and irrelevant constitution.

The latest structural changes haven’t appeared to follow this process.

‘There are administrative and official implications we are required to adhere to,’ Louise said in the video. ‘Please be rest assured that the board has sought advice and confirmed direction from our legal representatives to ensure we are being compliant and correct with our actions. This goes without saying.’

Inside Imaging asked the AIPP:
– What was the formal process for making these changes? …Constitution amendments require a ‘special resolution’ to pass, which means a 75 percent member vote. Was this pushed through at the AGM, or through some other process?
– ….In the video there is mention of legal advice. Is this in reference to making these structural changes?

No response yet. Read the Constitution here.

One Comment

  1. Lance Fearne Lance Fearne February 27, 2021

    What is the purpose of the AIPP and the people with the bag full of scrabble letters they put after their names? Do they actually produce anything or are they more versions of Johnathan Livingstone Seagull ?

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