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4th August 2015 Verity Sanderson

2. What did you think? #amaconf

Dawn Theaker
‎In our second post-conference blog Dawn Theaker, Senior Marketing Executive at the National Railway Museum, shares her thoughts.

What did you find most useful or interesting?
I particularly enjoyed the Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners – the who, the how and the why breakout session with Laura Gutierrez and Stephanie Burge. They presented very well together and gave a fascinating and inspiring insight to how they work with communities – I love the passion behind the projects and how they highlighted the importance of community participation with buy-in from their organisations (including Trustees and Senior Management teams). We heard about how the organisations created a climate of “participative safety” with transparent decision-making for projects, and how the cultural cafes for large scale discussion forums are a fantastic way to engage with existing and potential new audiences. Laura and Stephanie highlighted the importance of building internal capacity (giving staff the opportunity to articulate their voice) which was very refreshing to hear and their museums (and partner museums) are really investing in both staff and communities. We watched a very moving digital storytelling experience of one volunteer’s story – the impact the project had on his life which was incredibly honest and inspiring. It’s always great to hear case study examples at conferences and I’d love to hear more from the same speakers next year as their projects are still evolving now.

What did you enjoy most about the conference?
The AMA conference is great as it gives you so much flexibility to cherry pick sessions relating to both personal and professional development. The location was truly inspiring and definitely helped get the creative juices flowing during various workshops. My favourite part of the conference was actually the backstage tour of Birmingham Rep which was utterly fascinating. The Rep volunteers were fantastic at sharing a brilliant insight to life behind the scenes and we got to peek in the dressing rooms (which are complete with dimmer mirror lights and Ikea furnishings!) and see the latest set designs/costumes for upcoming production King Charles III. I’m not going to lie… I also very much enjoyed the complimentary gin, live music (and company of course) at the evening networking event too!

What’s the one thing you will take away from this year’s conference?
That according to Mark Wright (Director of People Create Limited) in his seminar Influencing Upwards – pink is a calming and influential colour to wear in business (this provides me with a great excuse to go shopping!). Sorry – I have another thing to add here even though you asked for one thing…. The National Railway Museum are currently working in collaboration with York Theatre Royal whilst they undergo a major refurbishment so another thing I have taken away is the need to ensure we share our experience of working together as a museum and theatre at next year’s AMA conference!

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