The IDEA board is yet to decide whether to appoint a replacement for CEO Katherine Singson, said IDEA president, James Murray. Ms Singson resigned suddenly in the first week of April.
He said that Ms Singson resigned because she had to return to the US for personal reasons, noting that she was happy in the role. ‘- Although I wouldn’t say it was a role without challenges,’ he added.
A decision on whether to replace Ms Singson will be made within the next two weeks, he said.
Several sources Photo Counter spoke to suggested that Ms Singson left because she felt she was being undermined in her role.
‘She felt she was being somewhat held back, and frustration got the better of her,’ Photo Counter was told.
All board members Photo Counter spoke to over the period of her tenure with IDEA said they were impressed with her ideas, and her passion for the role.
The current team at IDEA includes Tamsin White, who is selling exhibition space, Timo Kugler in a business development role, and newly-appointed PR and events organiser ‘Rinsed’.
Mr Murray outlined a future for IDEA in which board members are more involved. He said there had been a lot of activity and communication among board members over the last few weeks and in particular he had been working closely with IDEA’s vice-president for Consumer, Marc Radatt (Olympus).
He added that PMA had offered its assistance in moving plans for the annual show forward, and he was looking forward to working with Peter Rose PMA director.
Meanwhile, Paul Curtis, the former executive director of PICA (now IDEA) has released a statement announcing he has also left the association.
‘I have enjoyed my association with the industry. It has often been challenging but I have worked with some terrific people. The board has indicated that it wants to move in new directions and I wish them every success with their endeavours,’ he wrote.
‘In the last few years I have been called back twice to help the trade association and show through a difficult period. On this last occasion I set in place solid transition plans to ensure it should run smoothly,’ he wrote.
Those ‘solid transition plans’ saw Katherine Singson taking over the reins at IDEA in mid-2012 following a period as ‘special consultant to manage the transition’ which commenced in November 2011. In this role she reported to Paul Curtis. Mr Curtis and the then president of PICA (IDEA) Dave Marshall and Mr Curtis drove the selection process for the new CEO.
Initially, Mr Curtis was to remain with IDEA as a consultant until June this year, but this arrangement ended early – reportedly at the behest of Ms Singson and by mutual agreement between IDEA and Paul Curtis.
‘It is disappointing to hear that my successor, Katherine Singson, is leaving IDEA but when I last spoke to the IDEA president [James Murray, Nikon], he assured me that the board had every confidence in Katherine and that plans for both the association’s Vivid Festival exhibition and the Digital Show in Melbourne were all well in hand,’ he wrote.
‘I have played no part in the organisation of these events, but the board has all the expertise to ensure their success.’
– While events arguably have shown that confidence in the now-departed administrator was perhaps misplaced, Mr Murray is positive in his outlook for IDEA (although he has been decidedly reluctant to reassure IDEA members or the broader industry!)
While the last annual financial report showed the association lost over $500,000 in the 2011/12 financial year (while still holding a decent bank balance), Mr Murray says that since the annual report was tabled, fresh revenue has been offsetting costs. Exhibitors have been pre-paying for Digital Show space and it emerges that The Digital Playground event is a money earner for IDEA, rather than a sponsorship as it was described in the initial press release.
While Ms Singson left IDEA almost three weeks ago, there has been no formal statement communication with IDEA members about Ms Singson’s departure and future plans.
‘I’ve read more about what’s happening at IDEA in your newsletter,’ one IDEA member told Photo Counter.
Mr Murray told Photo Counter ‘there is a strong and capable team in place working on up-coming projects’.
First job for that team, said Mr Murray would be to update the Digital Playground website, which currently provides zero information about the nature of the event and the companies taking part. The website hasn’t been updated since the sponsorship was announced on March 5.
He said there will be around 10 Digital Playground exhibitors – mainly camera companies – at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, an ideal vantage point for photography and near the heart of the action of the Vivid festival.
Paul Curtis, who had been in the organiser’s role for the annual photo industry event since the 1980s, had some parting advice for IDEA:
‘I believe the annual photo show has played a key role in promoting the industry. It has lifted standards for both those working in the industry and informed and educated a broad base of consumers.
‘As long as the organisers respect the show’s grass roots, work closely with all aspects of the industry, and remember that smaller exhibitors are as important as the larger ones, there is no reason why the show and conferences should not continue to grow and prosper,’ Mr Curtis said.