The International Academy for Web Television announced today that it is opening up membership to anyone who wishes to join the organization, following a vote by the IAWTV board of directors during its Oct. 5 board meeting. New members will join the organization at the beginning of 2011.
Previously, joining the IAWTV required a listing of credits in the web video space, as well as two endorsements from industry professionals or one endorsement from a current IAWTV member. Members were evaluated individually by the membership committee and many were rejected.
In order to become a member now, an applicant must “prove interest in the industry through work experience, contributions made to the industry, or by agreeing to uphold the values and policies of the IAWTV,” according to the release, as well as pay the $90 annual dues.
The move follows a public blog post made last week by IAWTV membership committee member Jack Ferry, in which he presented the committee’s recommendation for open enrollment.
“The web… is open,” Ferry writes. “It’s designed to let the public in. Anyone can create a web series, upload it, and gain worldwide exposure. It’s inclusive, not exclusive. If the IAWTV intends to represent those who work in this medium, then it must be as inclusive as the medium itself.”
Ferry believes that the $90 annual dues would be enough to keep non-professionals and those uninvested in the web video community from joining the organization, and would also help keep membership numbers from dropping. From Ferry’s post:
From my conversations within the community, I’ve found that, unfortunately, interest in our organization is waning. I already know many current members who aren’t even considering re-upping their membership at the end of this year.
Much of this chagrin can be attributed to the negative attention the IAWTV received post-Streamy Awards. Like it or not, the IAWTV is perceived by many in the web series community as being too elitist, too opaque, and too cut off from the needs of the everyday members of the community.
In the comments on Ferry’s post, a passionate discussion reveals many of the concerns that will likely be raised during IAWTV membership meetings this week. Web producer/actor Tom Konkle, for example, wrote:
Strongly disagree with open enrollment. [The IAWTV] like any other group its effectiveness is diluted the more you add people who are not invested in it anymore than paying and maybe doing something one day as a show or worse paying to sit near someone from a show they like. I am SURE as it grows it would be like Joe Blow super fan who pays money at convention would EASILY pay 90 to sit next to a star or creator of a show they like in meetings and parties and they can offer nothing.
However, other commenters stated that open enrollment would allow them the opportunity to benefit from the organization without needing to know someone inside it.
“If you open up membership in a meaningful way, and try to evolve the process so people in my position aren’t then stuck in some ‘junior member’ limbo because we’re not near HQ or don’t fulfill more vague concepts that are never explained when used against someone, I’ll be the first one in line!” commenter James Fernandez wrote.
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