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Image courtesy of Sadler’s Wells © Hugo Glendinning – Gravity Fatigue by Hussein Chalaya

What is it about?


Noun: An event with no pre-planned agenda. A way for people with common interests to come together, share information and develop ideas.

We listened to your feedback and ideas about sessions you’d like to see at conference, and we think we’ve got a pretty fantastic programme for you. But we know that there’s always room for more and that’s why we want to hand over the reigns to you — for Unconference.

How will it work?

On Thursday lunchtime there will be space available for you to run your own Unconference sessions. On Wednesday lunchtime you will have the opportunity to propose and/or vote for a topic that you think we really need to be talking about. The topics that get the most delegate votes will run. So come along with your ideas about topics on Wednesday; we’ll tell you where to go to put forward your idea and vote.

If you propose a topic that gets voted in, you should arrive on Thursday ready to kick things off. You don’t need to run the session, just introduce the topic and get things started.

This is your opportunity to get together with your peers and raise that burning issue that should be discussed. Make the most of your conference experience.

When Worlds Collide — mixed economies and the future

Image courtesy of Cryptic © Louise Mathe

What is it about?

The closing keynote will explore what it means for us to have different sets of skills, multiple passions, and to occupy different spaces in the world. Activist, writer, performer, DJ (and many other things besides), Amy Lamé, talks about her experience occupying different worlds, the perception of ‘high’ and ‘low’ brow arts, and the way this affects our work.


Amy Lamé
Television & Radio Presenter, Activist, Performer, and Writer

Finding New Audiences — a panel discussion

Image courtesy of of Kettle’s Yard © Martin Bond – Kettle’s Yard family workshop

What is it about?

Joined by a panel of representatives from communities that don’t attend the Arts, South East Dance invites you to an open conversation about reaching new audiences and keeping their interest.

How can we get new people to see new work?

Speakers from organisations No Holds Barred and Sanctuary Supported Living based in Brighton and ArtsEtka based in Belfast, join South East Dance to reflect on ways of connecting new communities to the arts. The discussion will cover a number of less represented groups, including low income, LGBTU, differently abled persons and those of a minority ethnic background.

What will you gain?

  • A chance to hear from voices not normally heard
  • An overview of South East Dance’s Audience Ambassadors scheme that recruits non-dance audiences to attend performances and share experiences
  • Inspiring ideas for reaching and engaging new communities”

Who is it for?

Mid-level marketers and leaders keen to reflect on ways of connecting new communities to the arts.


Madeleine Wilson
Assistant Producer — Artist Development
South East Dance









Why diversity? A simple question. #ADA

CLoSer: The Devil’s Violin and Burns Night Ceilidh. Wilton’s Music Hall. Wednesday 25 January 2017.
Image courtesy of © James Berry

Amy Wilke’s first blog as an ADA 2.0 Fellow, from Wilton’s Music Hall, spells out how she sees the value of all of the arts is the answer to a very simple question about diversity.


The simple answer is that art should be for everyone. Art enriches life. Personally, I’m kept going throughout the week with gigs and films and the weekend with galleries and more gigs – my life would simply be flat without it. If art should be a reflection of life, and give us new perspectives on life, we’re failing if we aren’t including everyone’s lived experiences in this.

Countless studies have shown the benefits of engagement in the arts: children who learn a musical instrument do better academically; those who act have better confidence; sculpture can help improve dyslexia; and exploring visual art helps people with autism to communicate.

Further to this, seeing people we can identify with portrayed in positive ways is crucial to our identity, self-belief and to position ourselves within society.

As noted by a participant in the Equality, Diversity and The Creative Case report, ‘We studied Carol Ann Duffy but we were never told she was gay. And the same with Oscar Wilde. If all students knew that sort of information they might think twice about what they are saying because they would realise that gay people did some really good stuff and it would portray them in a more positive light.’

As arts programmers and marketers etc., we need to be giving platforms to these positive role models and being vocal about their identities.

Currently, it seems the arts sector is failing to reach diverse audiences, with a notable difference in engagement between white audiences and BAME, as demonstrated in this graph from the Taking Part report:

Reasons for these differences vary, with parental attitudes, schools and economic deprivation all being key factors, we also can’t deny that the lack of diversity existing in the arts – both on stage and behind the scenes – is an influence. For audiences to engage with us, we need to engage with them and invite them to feed into our programming and communications.

Wilton’s Music Hall is nestled away in Tower Hamlets, one of the most diverse boroughs in London (more than two thirds of the population belong to minority ethnic groups), and one which is unusual in having a very large Bangladeshi community. The 2011 census showed that it makes up almost one third of the borough’s population – considerably larger than the proportion across London (3 per cent), and the largest in England.

One potential obstacle to reaching this audience, which I will explore, is religious factors. As noted in the Every Child report ‘The role of music in religion can create challenges in engaging parents as it is not part of the cultural life of certain stricter Muslims.’

In the Every Child report, ‘Interviewees commonly felt that understanding the social and cultural context for different ethnic groups was key to delivering inclusive artistic activity and programming’

Tower Hamlets is also the second most deprived London Borough, and this is known to be a big hindering factor in arts engagement, starting at childhood: ‘Children and young people from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to engage in formal activities or visit historic places. They are also less likely to use words like “drama” or “concerts”, or define “arts” and “culture” without direction or suggestion (A New Direction 2014).’

One of my aims throughout this project is to explore how we can better reach the local community and see our audiences reflect the demographic more through understanding and engaging with them.



Conference Catch Up — Ron Evans

Picture of Ron Evans

Behavioral design consultant Ron Evans will be leading a session on the psychology of loyalty at AMA conference 2017 — The Value of Everything. In this teaser podcast, Ron’s shares what you can expect to learn in the session and go over some core concepts in advance.

Find out more about The Psychology of Loyalty session, the AMA conference 2017 programme and book your place.

Sponsored Briefing: Making More of Culture Export — expand your international working with the Culture Diary

Image courtesy of National Museum Cardiff National Museum Wales

What is it about?

Join this brief presentation on how the Culture Diary can help you promote your work and ultimately achieve your international ambitions.

Brad and Anna will explain how the Culture Diary has helped UK culture organisations reach potential new audiences abroad. Find out how you can connect with overseas opportunities, with the potential to tour, exhibit and sell UK culture internationally.

Discover how registering with the Culture Diary for free and uploading your events and other content links you to the rest of the UK culture sector.

What will you gain?

  • New ways to benefit from cultural exporting
  • Knowledge on how to connect with the GREAT Britain campaign
  • Some new friends in the culture sector

Who is it for?

Anyone in the cultural or creative industries looking to, or already, touring and exporting overseas.

The speakers

Anna Maloney
Head of the Culture Diary UK and International
The Culture Diary

Brad Barrett
Culture Diary Coordinator
The Culture Diary






Conference Catch Up — Amanda Dalton

Amanda Dalton, Director of Engagement at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, is leading a session at AMA conference 2017 — The Value of Everything. In this one-to-one she gives us a glimpse of what we can expect:

Tell us your story in under 50 words.

I’m at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and head up our You, The Audience programme, working with audiences and artists to change the conversations and the place of audiences in the organisation. Our audiences have developed a Manifesto for theatre and we’re in the process of making it real.

What are the three key things delegates will take away from your session? (50 words

  • Imaginative ideas – approaches to reinvigorating conversations with audiences that anyone might adopt if they want to.
  • Fresh insights into how a large venue is taking a building wide approach to work with audiences.
  • A practical starting point for developing an Audience Manifesto.

What are you most looking forward to about AMA conference 2017? (50 words)

Meeting colleagues, experiencing new ideas, challenging debate.

Find out more about Amanda’s session, the AMA conference 2017 programme and book your place.

Joining the Dots #DMA

Abi Jenkins from Music for Youth shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

I applied for the Digital Marketing Academy knowing full well it was going to be a challenge. In fact, that’s exactly why I applied.

On looking over blog posts of previous fellows, it’s somewhat comforting if a little saddening to see just how universal the time constraints and pressures of arts organisations are in impacting on the process of innovation and creativity. For me, my first big learning in this process has been getting comfortable with the fact that in a small, busy organisations like Music for Youth it’s OK to deal in fits and starts of progress, just as long as you keep joining the dots. Particularly in these small organisations there can be a feeling of constantly being in delivery, especially when one role encompasses so many different facets of work. However, in learning to prioritise actual, no-bones-about-it delivery, and starting to automate and refine other processes in new, more efficient ways, even just adapting to accommodate my Digital Marketing Academy experiment within my existing workload has already been hugely beneficial.

I think the key to this whole process is honesty. Even in these first weeks of the DMA the outside accountability of Action Learning Sets, and a brilliant mentor, while sometimes inducing a guilt-ridden anxiety, are invaluable in being able to fight for the headspace to ensure that you’re not wasting others’ equally valuable time as well as your own.

It’s with all of this in mind that I’ve set up a dedicated DMA 4.0 Trello board. While potentially unintelligible to an outside viewer, it’s my mental saving grace. Having one, centralised yardstick which is ready to revisit whenever possible has become invaluable. Some weeks it looms heavy with neglect, but it’s definitely net positive in being able to stoke the embers of momentum while the particularly busy periods take hold.

My fantastic mentor Ron, while helping me to pin down my main focus for this process in our very first meeting, reminded me that no matter what happens, at the end of this, I, along with my work will have to stand up and be counted in the final presentation. Working backwards from a concrete milestone like that has really helped, and though my experiment is still in its infancy, I’m excited to keep nurturing it.


Header image courtesy of Roundhouse © Ellie Pinney

The Google Inquisition #DMA

Olivia Parker from Waddesdon Manor shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

My ultimate aim to engage younger audiences with our art collections has begun with a journey of diving deep into our online audience and their behaviours. My first mentoring session with Tom Beardshaw was somewhat enlightening and I discovered, much to my shame, that I hadn’t been using Google Analytics to its full potential.

In November we launched our shiny, new website which not only reflects the beauty of Waddesdon but has a much more user-friendly interface. Great! But how do I get more people to it and engage with the content? It’s now my responsibility to find a way of doing this – in fact this is true of our social channels too. It’s a key organisational objective to get our digital audiences to engage with our art collections, both new and existing, and an audience we are really missing a trick with our 18-24 year olds.

Waddesdon website screenshot

Image Courtesy of Waddesdon Manor website © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor


Following my initial mentoring session, armed with Tom’s expertise in Google Analytics, I have started creating audience segments to dig down into understanding our website users, giving me actionable points from the data. I have been asking questions like, what is it that prompts our audiences to come to our website via social media? And are they visiting our collections pages? In doing so, my hope is to use this information to make some considered changes to our social content.

Our social media is quite eclectic to represent the many aspects on offer at Waddesdon: these include the art collections, our Aviary (interestingly also a registered zoo), exhibitions, gardens, wine cellar and tastings, online shop, and events which can be anything from big food and arts festivals and cinema screenings to kids camping and Christmas. Currently our best performing posts are beautiful pictures of the Manor or gardens, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, we want to raise the profile of our art collections. We already post a fair amount about the collections but the engagement is comparatively low and I need to find a way to increase it.

When I got accepted onto the Digital Marketing Academy I was excited because so often I feel like time runs away from me, and though I deliver sound marketing campaigns, they’re not as creative as I’d like them to be. So for me, the key to my project is creativity and having fun with it.

Therefore, to target our younger audiences, our plan is to begin by trialling playful and humorous content based around our collections that we hope captures the imaginations of 18-24 year olds. A huge inspiration for this approach has been Adam Koszary who used to Tweet for the Bodleian Libraries (now at Reading Museum). He created funny content that not only brought the collections to life but also showed the intention of the art works. I highly recommend giving his blog a read if you’re thinking about how you can jazz up your content.

Next step, learn how to create GIFs!


Header image:  Image courtesy of  Parterre, Waddesdon Manor  Photo Chris Lacey © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

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