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Best of the Best is best for National Print Awards – commentary by John Wanless

Tuesday, 01 December 2009
By Print 21 Online Article

New chairman of the National Print Awards, responds to criticism of the award format by industry commentator, James Cryer.

The new National Print Awards format had its first run this year, culminating in a great presentation night that all present could attest to. There were delighted gold medal winners, satisfied silver and bronze winners and some disappointed entrants who didn’t get over the line, but that’s the way awards are! If you want to make a rule that everyone who enters wins Gold, what’s the point?

Accepting the role as Chairman of National Print Awards is both an honour and a challenge. Firstly, to maintain the standard set by Scott Telfer, Alf Carrigan, Sid Thompson and their committees. Secondly, to embrace and harness the support which the event gets from the industry as a whole. Third, to bed down the new format of the “Best of the Best”.

Looking through the 26 years of Award books, you’ll see multiple Gold winners from some companies still printing today and some that have moved on, The Pot still Press, Hannan Print, Lamb Printers, InPrint, Canberra Press, Five Star, Incolour, RT Kelly, Scott Print, Wilke, Finsbury, Van Gastel … and the list goes on. The NPA needs to keep evolving and improving, but we can’t forget to reflect on our successful history, whilst considering the future.

In response to a recent article on the Awards, I would like make the following comments:

Annually, the categories are reviewed by the NPA committee and the independent Chairman of judging, Rod Urquhart. This will again take place in mid-December, and will include representatives from all state PICA committees. 30 categories is the limit, but changes within those 30 can and will be made if it deemed that new technologies and trends are overtaking popularity of existing categories.

Once these categories are reviewed, then they are set for each state’s PICA awards. Some state PICAs may chose to extend or add to the 30 categories which can be done independently of NPA, as some states may have specific requirements. With the 30 categories common to all states, then the independent judges from each state can select what they believe to be the best. The state finalists then go off to national judging to determine the ‘Best of the Best’. Putting pieces that weren’t the ‘best in the mix would serve no purpose. As for a suggestion of having more categories, where does it end? We could have hundreds if we really tried, but that would cheapen their value.

The ‘Best of the Best’ has run for one year, and it was deemed a success by sponsors, patrons and the punters. The second event to be held in March 2010 in Sydney will be evaluated on its success, and if the format needs tweaking to maintain its high standard, then that will happen. The committee dedicates many valuable hours to each year’s event, and we do encourage comments / suggestions, but quite simply we can’t adopt every suggestion. I also believe that suggestions be made through the NPA or through your state PICA committee rather than through trade media or public debate.

[I can’t agree with that… too many decisions are the result of in camera discussions where special interests prevail. A healthy public debate in the media is an essential part of allowing the industry to participate in framing its own destiny. Ed]

At the end of the day, the National Print Awards is a celebration of our industries achievements, improvements and most importantly its people.

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