The AIPP had 550 fewer members at June 30, 2017 than it did on the same day in 2014, according to financial reports lodged with ASIC, with total membership falling below 3000 for the first time since 2012.
There were 3477 members at the end of the 2014 financial year, while by June 2017 membership had dropped to 2925 (down from 3158 in 2016). Membership numbers have continued to decline over the past seven months.
During the 2014 – 2017 period the AIPP has absorbed members from the ACMP (although there were only a few ACMP members who were not already AIPP members when the former organisation closed its doors). The Professional Schools Photographers Association and the Video Producers Association also merged with the AIPP during this time.
For the past few years the AIPP has been open to a broader range of potential members who aren’t professional photographers; for example ‘Emerging’, ‘Enthusiast’ and ‘Affiliate Video’ members. Part of the rationale for this expansion was to strengthen the AIPP by increasing subscription revenues overall.
So on the two key success measures of growing membership rates and retaining existing members, the AIPP does not currently appear to be enjoying great success. A troubling trend has developed where significant numbers of members with long tenure, among them ex-Presidents, state presidents, board members and Australian Photographers of the Year, have resigned or not renewed their membership.
On the other hand, ProCounter has been told that the number of people working as photographers is estimated to have declined by a greater percentage than AIPP’s membership over this time. We also understand that a large number of people who joined in the 2010-2012 period did not last long as working photographers, as the reality of running a photographic business hit home.
On the other measure, financial stability, the picture is also one of moderate decline. For the last two years the AIPP has lost money: $10,800 in 2016 and $82,700 in 2017.
‘Although this is the second consecutive year of deficit, the directors are confident that the financial impact of the losses attributable to the ‘Reflections’ project and the ‘Incite’ event will not be repeated in the 2017/18 financial year,’ stated the Directors’ Report accompanying the 2016/17 financial data.
Moreover, the capital base has fallen significantly over the past three years. In 2014 Total Equity (assets minus liabilities) was $615K. By June 30, 2017 this had dropped to $415K.
When it comes to cash, there has been a fall from $678K in 2014, to $630K in 2016, to just $514K at June 30 last year.
Employee costs (salaries and long service leave) which have been a key issue in the current member debate have shot up over $120K in 12 months – from $687K in 2016 to $811K in 2017.
Subscription revenues have fallen by around $80K (co-incidentally around the same figure as the loss for the year) from $921K in 2016 to $8176K in 2017.
With subscription revenues falling and numbers of long-tenure members deciding not to sign up for another year, the AIPP will be banking on financially successful events in 2018 – the APPAs, the Epson State Awards, and Lenscape on the Gold Coast – in May, just a few short weeks away – to reverse its flagging fortunes. Unfortunately, some of the people who have contributed to making events like these successful in the past now appear to be disenchanted with the AIPP.
(PhotoCounter shared as version of this story with the AIPP, but received no response for publication or attribution.)