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Dear colleagues, dear partners, dear friends,

Perhaps you work in a media archive. Perhaps you are a researcher who uses these archives. Perhaps you are developing the technology for it. Perhaps you provide services for content managers large and small. Perhaps you are a policy maker who wants to help shape a regional or national audiovisual heritage landscape. Or maybe you are a media producer for whom the archive is an ideal source of reusable material and inspiration. There are many reasons why you could be interested in this conference. But what unites us all is our belief in the cultural, economic, technological and social importance of audiovisual content and media archives in particular.
The 45th FIAT/IFTA World Conference aims once again to provide a forum for this highly dynamic group of professionals. We want to connect you, let you hear what's going on in our world and we also want to hear from you what is on your mind, no matter what part of the world you come from.

For this 45th edition we chose Cape Town as the location. After last year's successful online conference with our friends from IASA, we had been looking forward so much to meeting each other again in person, shaking hands, starting conversations face-to-face. We all know the reasons why we will not travel to Cape Town, but stay seated behind our screens again. But don't let us dwell on that for too long. Let's rather focus on the advantages of online conferences: first and foremost the threshold to participate is significantly lower. This allows us to get in touch with colleagues who normally do not have the opportunity to travel far and wide. Let us take full advantage of this opportunity and expand our network by making plenty of new connections. I am sure that this will lead to unexpected, but also very inspiring online encounters, a true enhancement for our community.

I also take this opportunity – even though we are not in South Africa – to thank our host SACIA. They are the ideal partner to connect FIAT/IFTA with the audiovisual industry in the whole southern African region. Not only do they make a particularly large contribution to the organization of this conference, they also spread its word. We could not have imagined a better host. I also want to mention our sponsors and partners. With most of them we maintain a relationship for many years. I want to thank them for their unwavering support, faith and interest. We consider them an integral part of our network. And of course there is SABC. As South Africa's public broadcaster, their archive is evidently one of the most important collections in the country and even the African continent. We are very pleased to be able to give their initiatives a prominent place on the program.

Finally, I would like to point out the common thread of our programme, which we are also expressing in the conference theme. ‘Advancing the digital dividend’ refers to the ambition to make full use of the leverage that emanates from a digital archive. As a worldwide network, we are well aware that the digitization of audiovisual archives is not advanced equally around the globe. But whatever the status and condition of the archive, as FIAT/IFTA we want to inspire, connect and put archives on the map, so that the return on society may be at least as great as the return on investment.

On behalf of the Executive Council, the Commissions and all employees of FIAT/IFTA, I wish you a very fruitful online conference, with plenty of good ideas and nice encounters, a true boost for new projects and initiatives, and I hope to meet you live again as soon as possible.

Brecht Declercq
FIAT/IFTA President