28 Jun 2018

Inaugural ACETA Convention – our peak body flexes its muscles


The Inaugural ACETA Convention
our peak body flexes its muscles

By Jason Allen.

The inaugural ACETA Convention in Wangaratta was described by one industry stalwart as “the best industry event I’ve attended worldwide, ever”. From Friday 4 May to Sunday 6 May, the most influential and prescient members of the commercial and entertainment technology sectors laid aside their competitive differences and enjoyed a packed programme of motivational, practical, and educational seminars.


Convention organisers Julie Hinton and Deborah Sloss

By unanimous vote, the Convention will run again, same time, same venue, in 2019. Convention organisers Julie Hinton and Deborah Sloss, the ACETA Board, and President Frank Hinton should be immensely proud of what they achieved. Running a peak body is an essential but thankless task with little reward, but the transformative nature of this Convention on its participants is testament to the quality of the event.

The atmosphere was collegial and inspiring – like most small to medium businesses, we spend a lot of time working ‘in’ our business instead of ‘on’ our business, and the flow and location of the Convention took us out of all of that.

As knowledge and experience was shared, the burden of the common challenges we all face was lifted a little.

A common reaction was “I thought it was just me that had these issues, and that I was doing something wrong.” Hatchets were buried, peace was made, and the vibe was, as Quest Engineering’s Frank Andrewartha put it, “chill”.

Those who made the trip early kicked off with a round of golf on the Friday, followed by the opening plenary and a civic reception hosted by the Mayor and City of Wangaratta at the surprisingly well-kitted out Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre.

It is obvious that the City of Wangaratta is extremely serious about luring us entertainment technology types out of the big cities and into their area, and the cost advantages are compelling, particularly for manufacturers.

Kicking off the next day, the seminar programme ran across two rooms, starting 9:30 AM, finishing 4PM Saturday and 2 PM Sunday. The biggest hits with the attendees were Sheree Cross of SV Strategic Solutions presenting ‘Facilitating Corporate Change – Amalgamation/Acquisition/Sharing’ and Andrew Su of Compass Global Markets ‘Foreign Currency Trade – the Inside Story’.

Dolby’s Glenn Dickins

ACMA’s Mark Loney updated us on the current state of wireless compliance and policy reform, and Dolby’s Glenn Dickins presented a timely seminar on Spatial Sound Testing & Measurement. Roderick Van Gelder of the excellent Australian Entertainment Safety Resource Guide explained why wearing hi-vis is usually a bad sign, Frank Hinton shared his thoughts on leadership mentoring, and ACETA co-founder David Bell talked strategic planning.

Tiny Good explained The International Code of Practice for Entertainment Rigging (ICOPER) and how that will fit in with ACETA certification for production companies. The closing day rounded out with workshops for manufacturers, distributors, and service providers to outline the challenges in the industry, how to address them, and what ACETA can do about it. The results of each session were then presented at the closing plenary, where subcommittees were formed to tackle each issue.

It is clear that as an industry, we need to grow up, get organised, and get our house in order, which is why…

You should join ACETA NOW

The main takeaway from the Convention is that ACETA has tremendous power to address the problems that every sector of the industry faces, but needs you to put your hand in your pocket and become a member.

It’s not enough to think that the Board and the current members have ‘got it covered’, and are ‘doing a great job’. They are, but the true power of ACETA to transform this industry will only come to be once every responsible production company, distributor, manufacturer, and service provider joins up.

ACETA Accreditation for Production
Production companies – want to stop local councils from hiring Barry the Backyarder who undercuts you by 50% every year on Carols in the Park and then does the gig with dodgy gear on an unsafe stage? Join ACETA and they’ll lobby local government to only hire ACETA accredited companies.

ACETA accreditation is being worked on right now by a subcommittee headed by Showtech’s Tiny Good. At the end of the development process, they’ll have a system of quality assessment and accreditation, and from there it will be relatively simple to get government to adopt policy only to hire accredited companies. Let’s face it, local councils need all the help they can get in hiring production – they’ll love this for the removal of risk.

Some, but not all, of the conference attendees

Distributors – stop non-compliant product at the dock, get preferential supplier status
Distributors – sick of getting undercut by grey importers bringing in containers of cheap non-compliant product? Join ACETA and they’ll lobby federal government to stop containers at the wharf if they can’t produce compliance documentation. This has been implemented in other countries such as South Africa and there is no reason it can’t happen here.

We have the inside word that there are already major institutional customers (who we can’t name in print) who have internal processes that preference ACETA members in their supply chain. There will be more, especially after an ACETA membership drive and awareness campaign. This is about having a competitive edge, and you don’t want to be left out.

Like having a job and being able to sleep at night? So do we
Want to protect this entire industry and your livelihood? Join ACETA. We are collectively one bad day away from a tragedy and the kind of government scrutiny and over-regulation that could ruin us all.

If, god forbid, there’s a serious accident and our industry is responsible, investigators and government will treat us more favourably if we have standards and certification in place, and we can show that we are working towards making sure the entire industry is doing the right thing.
Only ACETA can get that done. If we don’t have a strong peak body with majority membership that is also enforcing standards, we could be shut down overnight.

And look at the EU stage lighting situation right now – their strong peak bodies are fighting that ridiculous legislation with all of their power, and will win. What’s going to happen when some MP gets the same hare-brained idea here?

Will you be supporting the peak body that stops it, or will you have sat idly by because ‘someone else will handle it’.

You are that someone. Join ACETA now

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine June 2018, pp.14-17. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search our archive


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