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AIPP revival stalls

The race to launch a new national photo association has shifted from a sprint to walking pace, after the initiative’s driving force, Paul Curtis, decided to step down.

Paul [right], who retired from various photo industry roles many years ago, has been advised to focus on his health after being recently hospitalised.

‘This means that under doctor’s orders, I must divest myself of a number of business ventures so that I can concentrate on the road ahead,’ he told Inside Imaging. ‘Unfortunately, this includes my interest in trying to revive the AIPP, which was so wrongly put into receivership.

‘However, we now know all the facts which led to the AIPP’s sudden demise; plus, we have some suggestions for a revival of a once revered institution. I hope someone will pick up the reigns, make representations to the Supreme Court and get the money back to fund a new body.’

Paul was moving at a lightning pace since February to form a new association to make a claim for the AIPP’s remaining financial assets, which will soon be distributed via a Supreme Court application.

As previously covered by Inside Imaging, the AIPP went into voluntary administration with $164K in the bank. After just over $16K was paid to creditors – and the administrator, CJG Advisory, takes a large slice – the remaining funds will ‘be allocated to a “a not-for-profit entity” with purposes similar to the AIPP’.

At the time of going into voluntary administration, the AIPP was the last remaining professional photography association. With no obvious benefactor in existence, it was unknown where the leftover money will go.

Paul, with a groundswell of support from former AIPP leadership and members via a Facebook group, saw this as an opportunity to revive a version of the Institute and make a claim for the funds. His aim was to build a new Institute that honoured various functions of the former AIPP, such as member titles and accolades, while forming a clear vision of who the Institute should represent, and addressing transparency problems.

This proved more difficult than anticipated, partly due to the Facebook discussions frequently spiralling into disputes or becoming a forum to vent about the AIPP.

Why sprint to form an association?

Details regarding the Supreme Court application came at the 11th hour, resulting in a strong sense of urgency to build a new association’s foundation to make a claim for the AIPP’s remaining assets. While a specific deadline for the Supreme Court application wasn’t provided, it was understood to be in a matter of weeks, not months.

It’s also proved challenging to navigate the forthcoming Supreme Court application to understand how the process works and what exactly is required. The situation is worsened due to a lack of clear communication from the liquidator or the outgoing directors. This week Inside Imaging asked the following questions to CJA Advisory:

– Where is the Supreme Court application process currently at?
– Has an application been made?
– Are you able to provide details about how this application process work?
– Why is it taking so much longer than originally anticipated? [CJA anticipated the liquidation would be complete by the end of last year]

The response: ‘The application is currently in progress and will be submitted shortly.’

There is more we don’t know than we know about the Supreme Court application process. For example, we don’t actually know whether there will be a physical Supreme Court hearing to attend; the deadlines for submitting a claim; where to send a claim and who to address it to; what should be outlined in a claim; how much funds are available, and so on.

There may have been no legal obligation to share this basic information with AIPP members, but communicating it at an earlier stage could have provided ample time for members to ‘rally together’ and salvage a national photo association.

Paul was about to build a website to have a presence, which would be accompanied by the formal administration structure requirements to make a claim. He was prepared to bankroll the website with his own funds, and planned to step aside once the new association was up and running.

Amid underlying health issues Paul, aided by a small but dedicated team, fought harder than anyone else in the last few months to form a new association. His selfless effort deserves admiration.

If securing the funds and establishing a new photographers’ association relied on the drive and enthusiasm of an elderly gentleman with no stake in the game, then perhaps this outcome was destined to transpire.

The momentum has slowed right down now that Paul has stepped out, but it hasn’t come to a complete halt. Early on Paul brought on board professional photographer, Clare Oliver, and she is continuing to explore various options. She told Inside Imaging this means going back to the drawing board and continuing discussions with photographers to measure interest and, ideally, build a committed team. She welcomes anyone with an interest – young or old – to contact her.

But rushing forward to try to secure the AIPP’s leftover money is no longer part of the plan, despite how useful the cash injection would be to a fledgling photo association.

That once again leaves a big question mark over where the AIPP’s leftover funds will go. Since the liquidation at least two new not-for-profit photo associations have emerged – Image Makers Association Australia and Pro Photography WA. Both seem like worthy candidates.

There may be others. More to come.

– Will Shipton

One Comment

  1. Andy McCourt Andy McCourt May 2, 2023

    Will, to address your question about the AIIP brand and IP – having been close to many liquidations in the printing industry, as a valuer and asset disposer, – $1 million to $200 million (scary I know!), the brands and IP (and client lists) are always an asset of the liquidated company that can be sold by the liquidator to help fund a return to creditors and pay his/her own fees. Maybe it’s different for an association of members, but I can’t see why that would be. Hope this helps. Sorry to hear of PC’s health issue and stalling of resolution.

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