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25th July 2016 Verity Sanderson

5 highlights that hit home #AMAconf

Siân Bateman, from London Sinfonietta, received a PatronBase bursary to attend this year’s AMA conference – On a Mission to Matter. Here she tells us about her experience…

This year I joined AMA on their Mission to Matter at the 2016 AMA conference in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. My greatest thanks goes to audience builder PatronBase, who through a full bursary allowed me to attend this conference for the very first time.

The whole three days were packed full of fascinating conversations, inspiring keynotes, mind-bending breakout sessions, captivating tours and wine-filled socials. I had the invaluable opportunity to meet so many different people within the arts sector and really re-address my thinking as an early-career arts marketer. I could write pages about everything I experienced, discovered and learnt but seeing as I now need the time to put all of these things into practice, I’ll keep it short! I’ve chosen five of my highlights from the conference, the things that really hit home, the things I’m still thinking about:

On a Mission to Matter Keynote by Nina Simon
What a keynote to kick off the conference. What did I learn? I learnt about doors. I learnt that we must create a door for our audience to walk through, inviting them in but also being truly representative of what our organisation provides for them. The idea that resonated with me long after this keynote: “we must not market something by painting a door on what is, in fact, a hard, solid wall.” I hope to take Nina’s message along with me as I progress my career and endeavour to “build bigger rooms for our work to live in, for our work to matter, together.”

What we can learn from #ThisGirlCan? Breakout session by Kate Dale
Before attending this session, I questioned what marketing for sport and the arts had in common. I was completely wrong to do so. The level of effort and dedication to produce a unique, interactive audience experience mirrored the arts’ commitment to audience development. I think the enormity of research undertaken in order to be relevant to a huge proportion of girls and women is what struck me about this campaign. It made me hope that one day I will also be part of a campaign that achieves this level of success, by mattering to every individual it touches. #ThisGirlCan

A Vision of Inclusivity Keynote by Donna Walker-Kuhne
As someone fairly new to a career in arts marketing, it is more than apparent that diversity in this day and age is the key to strength. I believe we can all be guilty of losing motivation or just not knowing how to make this happen – there are no fast results. Donne Walker-Kuhne’s keynote on Thursday morning reinvigorated and reassured me that inclusivity is “a long-term effort that requires commitment, dedication and a passion for the arts in the community”. With this in mind, we can integrate diversity into our everyday lives instead of making short-term efforts that feel feeble in comparison; “It is not a gesture, it’s a major investment.”

Accessibility – Making your communications matter Breakout session by Jo Verrent and Jen Tomkins
This breakout session was the real eye-opener for me. As an individual who does not have a disability, it is so easy to forget that the jazzy piece of print I’ve spent hours designing is just simply not accessible to someone who wants to be a part of my organisation’s audience. This session was full of practical and insightful tips that have really empowered me to start applying them in my everyday work. Necessities such as captioning videos and alt-tagging images take a small amount of time to complete but can indispensably matter to our audiences.

As well as my first AMA conference, this was my first time visiting Edinburgh. And wow. My colleague and I took full advantage of the organised tours provided by Mercat and delved into the Historic Underground of the city as well as discovering the Secrets of the Royal Mile. A city so full of culture, history and beauty provided a perfect setting for this year’s conference and I’m so pleased I got to experience these things for the first time hand in hand. For anyone who hasn’t visited Edinburgh, GO, NOW! You will not regret it.

Image: What can we learn from #ThisGirlCan? breakout session, AMA Conference 2016.