In a press release dated 24 September 2020, Kodak reveals that it has made the decision to withdraw from Drupa 2021. “Kodak’s commitment to the safety of our employees and customers during the Covid-19 pandemic is paramount. The continued concerns and impacts of the pandemic make it difficult for us to commit resources for such an event in these uncertain times,” said Jim Continenza, executive chairman, Eastman Kodak Company.
The release says, Kodak will continue to invest in the print industry, and doubling down on digital print and delivering the products its customers need to drive productivity and growth as the industry evolves. The announcement by Kodak makes it the seventh announcement by a major industry player to pull out of drupa 2021 by our reckoning although there may be more.
Our two cents on the Kodak withdrawal from drupa 21
The organizers have themselves declared that drupa 2021 will be a hybrid physical and digital event and Kodak’s withdrawal strengthens the digital and virtual outlook. To recite the list of withdrawals once again it was Bobst and Xerox who were the first to quit the event. Next came Heidelberg and Manroland Sheetfed followed by Komori. The latest was Screen in the first week of September and now it is Kodak in the third week of September.
Apart from the cost of exhibiting, the already considerable uncertainty of who will attend international exhibitions is increased by the uncertainties of the pandemic. The spread, recoveries, fatalities, and resources vary in each country, city, and region. When there are containment areas and quarantines for travelers within a country, international travel protocols are bound to be complicated beyond mere visas, quarantine regulations, and air connections. The risks of virus resurgence and that of travelers falling ill in a foreign country, together with the fact that they were the initial super spreaders, means that organizers need to strike a delicate balance.
In an interview, Markus Heering of the German VDMA said that drupa will have to have a virtual or digital component since so many will not attend. And the organizers have acceded to this and the slightly abbreviated physical event will take from 20 to 28 April 2021. With the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting large regions, including India, with an exponential increase in infections, and a second and third wave in several countries in Europe, it seems that the industry will have to look beyond 2021 and possibly to the more local and regional demonstration and training centers and events.