Gearhouse SA Hosts AV Alliance at Record-Breaking Annual General Meeting in Cape Town

Gearhouse SA Hosts AV Alliance at Record-Breaking Annual General Meeting in Cape Town

At last year’s Annual General Meeting in Bangkok, Cape Town was announced as the location for the 2024 AV Alliance AGM, with our local member Gearhouse Group as our host. The meeting, which took place two weeks ago on April 2-6 in South Africa’s oldest city and legislative capital, broke new records both in attendance and engagement, setting the bar higher than ever for future AV Alliance gatherings.

Cape Town is a destination that is not within an easy distance from most parts of the world, yet the excitement sorrounding this particular location was palpable right from its official announcement, and this excitement was one of the reasons for yet another record in attendance: we had the pleasure of having 137 participants, including  107 members and sponsoring partners (representing 50 and 10 companies, respectively), as well as many spouses, partners, and even children as with us during the three and a half days of meetings and social activities, making this the AV Alliance meeting with the highest number of attendees since the association was formed in 2011.

Our global network traditionally meets twice a year: for the Annual General Meeting and a more informal Get Together, each time in a different location around the world and hosted by a local member company. Gearhouse SA represents South Africa in three locations (Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban) in our global network, and they already proved to be the perfect hosts back in 20213, when they hosted an AV Alliance Get Together in Cape Town. For this AGM they delivered an AV setup like no other – including a stunning LED wall covering two entire walls of The Westin Cape Town’s ballroom – and went above and beyond to take care of our large group, from recommending the best restaurants to providing the utmost support both personally and professionally to each and every participant.

The AV Alliance, 2024

The Annual General Meeting serves as the official evaluation of the previous year’s activities within the AV Alliance, as well as the presentation of the financial status and spendings of the organization, which is then formally approved by the members in accordance with Swiss law. The two meeting days also include presentations by the AV Alliance, our sponsoring partners, as well as updates from all the present members on their current activities, and excellent networking opportunities for promoting business connections and personal relationships.

This year’s AGM in Cape Town was once again led by Chairman Peter Muller and General Manager Artur Kovacs, and saw a number of important changes in the operation of the AV Alliance, including participants voting for the expansion of the AV Alliance Board to the maximum of seven members to increase diversity and geographical represenation in the decision-making body of the network. As a result, Zaki Mustapa, Director of our Kuala Lumpur-based member Cantuman Wawasan, and Laura Güimil, Account Director at Buenos Aires-based 2MG.NET were elected to join current Board members Matt Emerson (AVFX/CEAVCO), Martin Blanchard (Les Productions Expert’ease), Joaquin de Elias (Congress Rental) and Simon Ackermann (Habegger AG). At the same time, Peter Muller, Director of Possibilities at Special Effects Ltd. was reelected as Board member and will continue his work as Chairman of the AV Alliance for another term.

The newly elected members of the Board of the AV Alliance
The Board of the AV Alliance: Joaquin de Elias, Matt Emerson, Zaki Mustapa, Laura Güimil, Peter Muller, Martin Blanchard (not present: Simon Ackermann)

The AGM’s first meeting day agenda heavily featured the achievements of the AV Alliance’s Education, Advancement, and Outreach Committee (EAOC), which was formed inthe summer of 2023 and is focused on the development of our network’s global training program. This segment featured presentations by Artur Kovacs, ETP/LMG’s Chief Operating Officer David John and Director of Academic Programs Ormilla Vengersammy, EAOC members Kevin Farrant (Novatech CET), Sheila Perestrelo (VA 361° Productions), and Laura Güimil (2MG.NET), and an inspiring introduction to the immense impact and achievements of the renowned Gearhouse Kentse Mpahlwa Academy (which serves as a beacon for the work of the EAOC) by Gearhouse SA Chairman Nkosinathi Biko.

The EAOC was founded by our General Manager Artur Kovacs and distinct colleagues from LMG, Gearhouse SA, Novatech Creative Event Technology, VA361° Productions, Maxi Audio, and Reynold’s, and is currently run by a select group of volunteers from the ranks of our AV Alliance members (including Special Effects Ltd., Conference Services, satis&fy, Proshow, 2MG.NET and more. We are delighted that with the addition of Laura Güimil, one of the EAOC’s most passionate contributors to the AV Alliance Board, the Committee’s work and the development of our training program has gained further support.


Artur Kovacs introducing the Education, Advancement, and Outreach Committee (EAOC)

Further tying into the topic of the future the of AV industry, we had two fantastic keynote presentations: first, JJ Anderson of our Dublin-based member Conference Services spoke about his research project on generational perspectives, with extensive data to assist the industry in order to attract the next generation of AV professionals. Next up, we had the pleasure to welcome Danilo Acquisto, Co-Founder & CEO of Special Effects Media South Africa, who delivered an energetic presentation on Inspiring Change and Mastering Influence, as well as the impact Generation Z is having on the future of the industry. Before the afternoon sponsor activities, we had our London-based member Pixl‘s CEO Guy Vellacott speak about global standards in health and safety in the AV industry, their impact on the AV Alliance, and the plans for the new Health & Safety Committee within our network.

The first meeting day concluded with  an almost 3-hour long networking carousel that allowed our sponsors create meaningful discussions with the representatives our member companies around their product and service needs.

The second meeting day, as always, hosted the financial presentations of the AV Alliance, as well as the Board Elections, and just like last year, they were followed by an inspiring Leadership Meeting, hosted by our Board member and AVFX CEO Matt Emerson. Finally, the second meeting day concluded with a number of different workshops centered around the practical aspects and the future steps of the EAOC, the Health & Safety Committee, and a fantastic work group session by Danilo Acquisto.


Chairman Peter Muller presenting the AV Alliance’s financials

With so many participants eager to spend as much quality time as possible with their friends in the AVA family, our time in Cape Town was filled with extremely large – both official and unofficial – group dinners at some of the very best restaurants the Western Cape has to offer, including the Grand Africa Café, Simon’s Restaurant (hosting our unforgettable welcome dinner in the heart of the picturesque Groot Constantia wine farm), Bo-Vine Wine & Grill in Camps Bay, the stellar Ocular Lounge on top of the Zeitz MOCAA, and Baia Restaurant. Of course, the beauties and natural treasures of South Africa also inspired many of our members to explore the Western Cape, visit the fabulous wine regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl (Babylonstoren is highly recommended for anyone looking for an unforgettable experience), and Franschhoek, or go on safaris both near and far – even as far as the Kruger National Park or the Sanbona National Park.

While the unpredictable weather and the strong famous Cape Town winds prevented us from visiting Table Mountain with the whole group, some adventurous folks were still able to hike up the mountain on the Platteklip Gorge, while many of us visited the wonderful colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach. Finally, the official part of our South African adventure came to an unforgettable close at the exceptional Grub & Vine restaurant on the Norval Foundation estate.

Chairman Peter Muller opening the last official dinner of the AGM at the Zeitz MOCAA

With hearts full of memories, and re-invigorated spirits, the AV Alliance now looks forward to meeting in Vancouver, Canada for our upcoming Get Together in the fall of 2024, to be hosted by our members Stagevision and Proshow.

But before we close this chapter of the AGM 2024, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks once again to our impeccable host Gearhouse SA and all our friends – especially Ofer Lapid, Nasser Abbas, Charl Smit, Richard Baker, Nkosinathi Biko, Thabiet Waggie, Joey Razak and the entire technical crew – at Gearhouse Group of Companies for their generosity and hospitality, as well as their exceptional AV support that all contributed to making this event – if we are to believe our members’ feedback – the best AGM in AV Alliance. history.

Dankie almal, totsiens!