Hugh Benson, Marketing Trainee at Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras, received a bursary to attend AMA conference 2017 in Belfast. In this blog post, he talks about his experience of being a conference newbie.
When I thought of the idea of going to my first professional conference, I was slightly mystified. I knew it would be a good thing to do – new to the arts marketing profession, I was looking for stimulation, guidance and, dare I say it, a dash of inspiration. But what does one actually do at a conference?
External input didn’t really help. Family, friends and some fellow (and respected) professionals replied nebulously along the lines of there being lots of talks, about something called professional ‘networking’ and a mandatory joke about biscuits and tea. So my expectations were about as cloudy as the skies above Belfast as we came in to land.
As soon as I got to the AMA conference, however, everything became clear. This was a place where we came to learn and importantly to feel incorporated as part of a profession. I was struck by the feeling that this event offered a forum for the arts marketing profession and constituted a cross section of everyone working within it. Delegates came from all over the UK and across the spectrum of arts organisations, and there were lots of them! There was also a great sense of commonality between people which was telling in a world in which we all live such individualised lives.
The talks I went to were of two types. The first I would categorise as technical, with talks ranging across many subjects including: data protection and GDPR compliance; how to create engaging self-generated video content; introducing Snapchat to your organisation; and optimising video use across social media channels. These were highly useful and engaging talks and packed to the brim with new information. The second was about how to live a fulfilling professional life and how to interact positively with your surrounding environment. We learnt about how to ‘Go Ninja’, to develop the spirit though pursuing fulfilling activities in our personal lives and help this to enhance our working lives; we learnt about how to become part of the ‘sharing economy’ and maximise resources as well as productivity; and finally about the value of authenticity, staying true to ourselves as individuals and organisations.
Thankfully, attending the AMA conference showed me I was part of a profession where the spirit was alive and authenticity was cherished. Until next year!