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Re: AGA Contest - Request for Input
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to give me some feedback
regarding the addition of several new categories to this year's AGA Contest.
If I may, I'd like to give you my "take" on what you had to say......
Some folks think that the Contest is fine, just as it is, others think the
new categories might add more interest, while still others definitely feel
that they would detract from the main focus of the event (i.e. aquascaping
in freshwater aquariums).
There seems to be some confusion in the minds of some people as to just what
the AGA is "about". If you would kindly go to the AGA website and check the
blurb there on the goals of the organization, you will see that it is NOT
limited to plants in glass boxes (i.e. aquariums). The organization is
devoted to the practice of aquatic gardening - and whether that takes place
in an aquarium or a pond is left up to the individual hobbyist. Gathering
and disseminating information ABOUT aquatic plants is also very germane to
the organization's goals. Now, what is an aquatic plant? That depends upon
who you ask but many of the plants we commonly keep in aquariums are in fact
bog or marsh plants which in nature spend a portion of each year with their
leaves in the air. So to me, whether they are arranged under water, in an
aquarium, or above the surface, around a pond or water garden is immaterial.
The AGA is also, and quite possibly most importantly, about fostering a
sense of community among hobbyists.
One person suggested a "non-judged" category, where tanks could be submitted
for display only, and not be judged. Errr......buddy, we have HAD that
facility all along. The original name of the event was "The AGA
International Aquascaping Showcase & Contest". We understand that not
everyone might care to have their efforts "raked over the coals" in a
competitive event, so we have always allowed people to mark their entry
"Showcase Only". The thing is, only one or two people ever entered that way.
Several people seem to suspect that I'm perhaps being "money grubbing" (my
own italics) - looking for an increase in entries each of which will come
with the munificent sum of $5.00 as an entry fee. Wow, that might have
worked for MacDonald's, but I hardly think its fair to say it about this
event. We didn't break even the first year, and I doubt that it will
generate any "profit" this year. This ISN'T about money. This event is paid
for out of general AGA funds and is open to entry from anybody, whether or
not they are AGA members. The entry fee is designed to defray _some_ of the
costs associated with it. If you think it should be FREE, you are welcome to
start your own Contest.
One person thinks the marketing and promotion of the event ought to be
improved. Such things are always desirable and welcome - would that person
care to join the planning committee and volunteer his time and expertise to
that end? Its great to get ideas, but there are only a very few people who
actually DO all of the work required for an event such as this and we are,
to be blunt, already stretched to the limit. I have never been impressed by
folks who sit on the sidelines and criticize people who actually DO
something without ever offering to help out themselves.
Yet another person sent me a missive as to why HE didn't enter. We were
actually charging an entry fee (gasp!) and he wasn't impressed by the
PRIZES - he couldn't even see the prizes on the web site. During the first
year, I made sure that individual corporate donations were quickly added to
the web site as they were received and I understand that it didn't happen
last year, due to a number of reasons (I wasn't involved with last year's
Contest, due to illness). But you know what? This was NEVER about the PRIZES
(at least not for ME). Hopefully, this year there WILL be prizes, but what
those prizes are remains to be seen and will depend entirely on what I can
get from the many very generous Corporate Sponsors who have supported us in
the past. The "prize pool" will also be shared with the AGA Convention, to
be held this year in Houston, Texas.
If its a prize you're after, go buy a box of CrackerJacks! This event was
conceived as a permanent forum where hobbyists could SHARE their love of
this segment of the hobby with others of like mind. If, in the process, the
general level of aquascaping could be improved over time thru example, all
the better. Please see the archives of the APD for my original suggestion
which stated this whole thing in the first place.
This individual also seems to think that the AGA gets the "rights" to the
images submitted. Obviously, he didn't read the rules very carefully. When
we planned this, I was VERY careful to insist that the Copyright of each
submitted entry remain with the owner of the images (and it says so in the
Rules). The AGA does have the right to publish the photos on the web site
and in TAG and in a CD-ROM of the event, but that's it. The owner of the
images is free to make any further use of his/her own images as he/she sees
fit. Its the OTHER contest which claims full ownership of the submitted
images, not this one!
As you can probably tell, that one email _really_ got my goat.
But, moving on......
The idea of adding two Categories to the mix this year was MINE, and mine
alone. Not everyone will agree with it. If they don't work, they WILL be
dropped, quietly and without fanfare. But I don't think that they take
ANYTHING away from the REAL focus of the event - SHARING what you love about
this hobby with others. I don't anticipate that the "Botanical Illustration"
category is going to attract hundreds of submissions and some folks were
aghast trying to connect my suggestion of "needlepoint" with aquatic plants.
But my feeling is that if someone loves aquatic plants and wants to
incorporate that love into another artistic interest, it might be both
interesting and worthwhile to offer them a place to display it. If even ONE
person who likes to sketch, draw or paint decides to submit an entry to the
category, I'll be happy.
And I KNOW that there is a large number of "pond people" here, generally
lurking in the shadows. There may be many forums and venues for the display
of ponds and pond plants, but for the life of me I can't see how trying to
involve them in the event is going to hurt it. I can appreciate a pretty
picture of a water lily just as easily as I can a fully planted "Amano"
aquascape - why can't more of you?
These "additions" ARE an attempt on my part to get MORE of you involved with
the event, and hopefully, with the AGA. We can all learn something new from
one another, and we can all have something to share with one another. This
is a HOBBY, its supposed to be FUN.
Again, thank you for having taken the time to give me some feedback. I am
always open to suggestions and input, be it good or bad (as long as you are
prepared to listen to my inevitable rebuttal...). I just wish to encourage
more of you to GET INVOLVED!
Stay tuned for an "official" announcement.....
AGA Aquascaping Contest