Graeme Richardson-Locke discusses his experience at FESPA’s General Assembly 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria which was attended by FESPA Board members, Associations members and staff.
The FESPA team organised its annual General Assembly in Sofia, Bulgaria in September 2018. The event was attended by FESPA’s Associations from around the world. The event provides the presidents of the member national printing associations with the opportunity to influence the direction of the FESPA federation by discussing and voting on significant issues. In addition, the presidents gain further understanding of the current financial performance of FESPA and its implications for reinvesting back into the member community. Currently, over 1 million euros has been reinvested in supporting education and networking for printers who have a FESPA membership. This event is crucial for FESPA’s Associations since it determines the funding available to them for the upcoming year.
Caption: FESPA Association members at the General Assembly 2018
The Associations are diligently working to provide local conferences and events so that their members can acquire new knowledge to improve their business. The formal meetings are vital and what further extends the value of the General Assembly is the opportunity for the community to exchange their views on the developments and challenges occurring in their regions. This, in turn, is a great opportunity for FESPA to obtain better feedback to stimulate deeper engagement in the specialty printing industry it supports.
The same digital printing technology disruption is taking place and affecting printers in every country, albeit accelerated in some countries more than others. Printing used to be a locally supplied service, however the new reach of web to print with localised fulfillment now challenges the established order. There are numerous opportunities to print new and innovative products, although it means printers large and small must continuously re-appraise their strategic plans. Identifying the scale of new threats can be a daunting task, but to choose to plough on regardless remains a risky business.
Caption: FESPA members, board and staff in Sofia, Bulgaria for the General Assembly.
The day after the General Assembly, the group went on a trip by steam train to Koprivshtitsa, a historic mountain town full of cobbled streets and brightly painted traditional buildings in the Sredna Gora mountains. The train was formerly the Royal train of King Boris III of Bulgaria and featured wood paneled carriages, canapes and prosecco. The scene was set for a very enjoyable 3 hour journey.
Along the way, there were wide-ranging discussions around the current topics affecting printers and their businesses. The FESPA board members enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the local associations in a relaxed and informal setting. For myself, it was an opportune situation to discuss FESPA’s Colour Management workshop and how best to introduce it across multiple languages. These discussions have reaffirmed the need to offer a translation fund whereby FESPA will fund half of the translation cost for the programme. As indicated in the recent FESPA Print Census, almost half of the respondents are looking at investing in colour management tools over the coming year. The advantages and necessity to ensure a right-first-time approach requires better understanding and that is what this workshop will provide.
Caption: The train belonging to King Boris III Royal ready to board to Koprivshtitsa in the Sredna Gora mountains.
After an amazing railway journey through the Bulgarian countryside and up into the mountains, we finally disembarked at our destination Koprivshtitsa. The town has over 380 architectural monuments from the 19th century and most of which have been restored to their original style. We were lucky enough to see collections of cultural treasures, old weapons, National Revival works of art, weaving and embroidery. It was here that the first shot of the April Uprising against the Ottoman domination was fired in 1876. One of the pleasures of being involved in an international business community is the exposure you get to so many rich cultures and FESPA Bulgaria gave us the best of experiences.
Caption: The centre of Koprivshtitsa before FESPA take a cultural tour.
After our groups reconvened after the tours we enjoyed a barbeque in the grounds of the old school house, which was to be the venue for the presidents meeting. As I’m not a president I was not invited to this meeting so I’m afraid I have nothing to report, although they all emerged happy so I can only assume that their discussions were a great success!
Caption: Chrisitan Duckyerts, FESPA’s President, the Association Presidents, board members and staff following the Presidents meeting.
At the end of a great sightseeing tour, we had a final dinner at the Residence Club, a pearl in the architecture of Sofia. Built-in 1906 for the former Mayor of the city, by the famous Austrian-Hungarian architect Friedrich Gruenanger. Officially declared a cultural monument of national importance in 1955, it was an impressive venue to conclude a very productive few days.