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Design-Thinking and Collaboration — the future is radical

Image courtesy of Eureka! The National Children’s Museum — Fusion: Adventures in digital art exhibition, in partnership with The Lumen Prize for Digital Art 


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in Glasgow.


What is it about?

Màiri will share insights from a cross-organisation digital research project which used design-thinking to create content for a specific audience.

Explore how this approach has informed projects across digital and real-world spaces. You’ll learn about the implications for projects that blur the boundary between both.

This session will ask: how can user-centred-design be a vehicle for radical collaboration within organisations? How can this facilitate a more holistic approach to content and product? Once these collaborative connections are made – how can we make space for them to grow?

What will I gain?

— An understanding of projects that work across digital and real-world spaces

— Examples of user-centred design as a vehicle for radical collaboration within organisations

— Ideas for nurturing your own digital collaborations

What will I gain?

This session is for senior cultural professionals and strategic thinkers who want to understand how design-thinking approaches can be used in audience engagement.


Image of Mairi Lafferty from National Galleries Scotland

Màiri Lafferty | Daskalopoulos Curator of Engagement | National Galleries of Scotland



Insta Success — a New York Public Library case study

Image courtesy of Colston Hall © ShotAway 3


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in Glasgow.


What is it about?

Richert Schnorr, Director of Digital Media for the New York Public Library, will discuss the Library’s ‘Insta Novels’ project, which brought full, classic novels to the Instagram Stories platform.

Hear how the project, which grew the Library’s Instagram followers by nearly 100k in the first month, was conceived, executed, and designed, and what lessons the Library learned from its success.

What will I gain?

— Ideas for how to maintain a light, social media tone that stays true to your core mission

— Insights into staying scrappy and responsive

— Tips for invoking delight in your audiences

What will I gain?

This breakout if for those who want to hear about a highly successful practical case study, which pulls out the strategic elements.


Richert Schnorr | Director of Digital Media for Communications and Marketing | New York Public Library



The Future is Now

Image courtesy of The Piece Hall – Live at The Piece Hall by Danny Payne Photography (1)


This Keynote Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in Glasgow and will be livestreamed to London.


What is it about?

Futurist Anne Lise Kjaer will open Future Now with a look at where the arts and cultural sector, and our audiences, might be heading.

Anne Lise will share her research and experience of consumer mindsets and trends, helping us to future gaze towards possible opportunities.

Join us to learn about what may be possible — and how the arts and cultural sector can begin to create the future we want.


Anne Lise Kjaer

Anne Lise Kjaer | Futurist | Kjaer Global



Using Data to See the Future

Image courtesy of National Theatres Scotland — 12. Shift 2018. Presented by National Theatre of Scotland, Culture NL and North Lanarkshire Council. © Drew Farrell


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in London.


What is it about?

Using data to make small, incremental improvements to your tactics will add up over time. But how do you use data to inform strategy, test new offerings, and discover the bigger opportunities that might be out there?

In this session, Chris will show you how to use commonly available tools and some imaginative techniques find and research new audiences, test new campaigns, and understand your competitors.

What will I gain?

— Ways of using your data insights to find new audiences

— Insights into how you might test new campaigns

— Advice for using data to understand your competitors

What will I gain?

This session is for those with experience of analytics tools, who want to know how best to future-gaze with their data insights and use this to inform their strategies.

Chris Unitt | Founder | One Further



Letting Your Data Show You the Way

Image courtsey of Arts Admin – Passage for Par, Rosemary Lee (Groundwork 2018) Produced by Artsadmin and Dance Republic 2 © Graham Gaunt


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in London.


What is it about?

We all want to create better campaigns, improve our websites, and give our audiences what they’re looking for. With all the data we’re collecting, the answers must be in there somewhere, right?

Too often data is only used to look backwards, rather than helping to inform what you need to do now and next.

In this practical session, Chris will share tools and techniques that you can use to remove guesswork and let your data show you the way.

What will I gain?

— Cost effective tools and simple techniques that can provide you with answers

— Insights into the right questions to ask of your data

— Examples of where data has made a difference

What will I gain?

This session is for those with a basic working knowledge of data insight tools but who don’t spend enough time getting to grips with it / harnessing its power.

Chris Unitt | Founder | One Further



Objective First Approaches to Digital

Image courtsey of The Museum of English Rural Life


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in Glasgow.


What is it about?

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) went globally viral in April 2018 with an archival photograph of a large sheep known as the Absolute Unit. The image received 1.5M engagements, features in the national press and even a range of t-shirts. The success of the campaign relied not just on communication skills, but the buy-in and trust of the whole organisation.

In this session you will hear the story behind the Absolute Unit, and also how MERL use an Objective First Framework to ensure colleagues see the worth of digital marketing and actively contribute to it, essentially incorporating digital marketing into everybody’s roles. You will also participate in a short task, where you will complete an Objective First exercise from the perspective of different teams within arts organisations.

You will leave this session inspired to have more fun with your social media, and equipped with the tools to bring your colleagues along with you.

What will I gain?

— Understanding of an Objective First Framework and how it can create more digitally literate teams

— Insights into a truly successful campaign and learnings from what followed

— Practical advice and inspiration for playing with your organisation’s voice on social media and gaining buy-in from your colleagues

What will I gain?

This session is for anyone looking to experiment with their voice and tone on social media, and those looking for practical pointers on driving through culture change in their organisations.

Adam Koszary | Programme Manager and Digital Lead | Museums Partnership Reading



Creating Inclusive Digital Experiences Today — with the tech of tomorrow

Image courtesy of Jodrell Bank — Immersive words and science engagement © Scot Salt


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in London.


What is it about?

From AI to robots, from apps to wearables, Robin will explore how inclusive technology has the power to change and transform lives — regardless of ability or environment.

Blast away any preconceptions you may have about the potential of technology to deliver a truly inclusive digital experience for everyone.

Will you be part of a future where technology truly includes everyone?

What will I gain?

—An overview of key accessibility issues and how to embrace them in your campaigns and organisation

—Illustrations of how, In this era of extreme computing, accessibility is no longer a specialist requirement

—Knowledge of a range of inclusive apps and technologies that you could easily use in your work

What will I gain?

This session will suit all delegates with an interest in making digital experiences more accessible. It will be of particular interest for managers and leaders looking to create a truly inclusive digital future for their organisations.


Robin Christopherson MBE | Head of Digital Inclusion | AbilityNet



Digitally Literate Leadership — why it matters

Image courtesy of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival — Brownton Abbey 2, Brighton Festival 2018 ©Vic Frankowski


This Breakout Session will be taking place at Digital Marketing Day 2018 — Future Now in Glasgow.


What is it about?

There’s a lot of talk about the digital skills shortage; however, what is truly alarming for Petra Abbam is the lack of digital understanding across leadership.

We are surrounded by digital tools and platforms but have we considered the consequences of these? Many of us work in the public sector and have a commitment to reaching wider, diverse audiences, but at the same time we are using tools that have business models based on optimising sales rather than reaching a variety of audiences.

In this session, Petra will examine the ethical limitations and commercial opportunities of digital tools, and how we either shy away from technologies that we think are not for us or jump on board without realising their shortcomings.

What will I gain?

— Understanding of the consequences and implications of using various digital tools — and of not using them

— Insights into the ethical limitations of digital

— Advice for becoming more digitally literate managers and leaders

What will I gain?

This session is for senior cultural professionals and leaders.


Petra Abbam | Publications Editor | BBC Proms



Smart Caption Glasses Launch — National Theatre 

On 3 October, the National Theatre launched their smart caption glasses and the AMA were invited to the special launch event to get a taste of this ground-breaking technology. 


At the AMA we are passionate about access to arts and culture. We provide online workshops on subtitling, with trainers from Stagetext and at AMA conference we ensure that at the very least our Keynote sessions are live subtitled. Having seen this in action, and also having a small amount of video captioning experience, I am aware of the amount of preparation and time it takes to subtitle a performance, so I jumped at the chance to see how these glasses work. 

As I walked into the Olivier theatre, I was handed a pair of the glasses, so I could go through the tutorial before the event began. The glasses were much smaller than I had anticipated and were linked to a touch pad, so the user can control the glasses’ settings. 

The first truly impressive thing was that the text display, through the use of the touch pad, was completely customisable. The text size, colour, orientation and background display are all adaptable to suit the needs of the wearer. They were also surprisingly comfy, if it a bit heavy and they do fit over regular glasses. 

The event began with a short excerpt from Exit the King, starring Rhys Ifans and Indria Varma. As someone who does not need subtitles, it took a while for my eyes to adjust between watching what was on stage and reading the subtitles provided by the glasses but I appreciated that this meant you did not miss a second of action from the stage, as you would having to look to the side to read a screen. In fact, once my eyes had adjusted I almost forgot I was wearing the glasses and was able to enjoy the performance. 

Left to Right: Lisa Burger, Dave Finch, Samira Ahmed, Jonathan Suffolk and George Marcotte

The 15-minute excerpt was followed by a panel discussion led by Radio 4’s Samira Ahmed, and featured Lisa Burger Executive Director at the National Theatre, Jonathan Suffolk Technical Director of the National Theatre, George Marcotte Managing Director of Accenture Digital and Dave Finch who was a key member of the testing group. 

The panel discussed the process of creating the glasses, explained how the technology actively listens to the phonetic sounds from the stage and their hopes for the future of the project that include audio description and translation. However, it was the comments from Dave Finch that truly made me understand just what sort of impact these glasses will have for someone suffering from hearing loss. 

Firstly, Dave explained how mentally exhausting it is to not have perfect hearing — that all he hears is a mish-mash of sounds that he must actively filter to pick out what he wants to hear and that whilst traditional captioning is helpful, it means that he cannot truly immerse himself in the production. 

To him, the fact that you can focus forward on the stage is a major advancement that helps his enjoyment of the production. In his own words, the glasses are “tremendous” as they lay out everything deaf people need, right in front of them. 

The National Theatre currently have 90 pairs of glasses available, which are free to use but must be pre-booked and they will be available for ANY performance at the National Theatre with the release of their new season later this month. They will also be available at 5 venues during the touring production of Macbeth and in 2019 the National Theatre will be partnering with Leeds Playhouse as a first step towards making this technology available in theatres across the UK. 


I am thoroughly impressed by the technology and the work that has gone into this project from a number of organisations. The amazing thing is that this is the first public iteration of this technology, which means that it can only be improved and expanded upon. I truly hope that it is something other venues will be able to utilise in the future, as these glasses will open the world of art and culture to a wide audience that can be excluded through no fault of their own. 

Read the full press release from the National Theatre. 

See a video example of the glasses. 

Featured image courtesy of the National Theatre © James Bellorini Photography

All other images courtesy of Jemma Green

AMA London Regional Meeting — alternative marketing approaches for touring companies

Jemma Green, Senior Marketing Officer — Events, attended the London Regional meeting hosted by our London Member Rep at the Royal Court Theatre. The meeting included a talk by John Holmes, Director of Marketing & Audience Development at the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) on alternative approaches to marketing for touring companies with no access to audience data.

Having never been to an AMA Regional Meeting, I was really looking forward to meeting our members and hearing what speaker John had to say about how the marketing landscape has changed for touring companies post GDPR.

The talk was held in the rehearsal room at the Royal Court Theatre, and our Member Rep kicked the event off with some fantastic ice breakers (your best/worst celebrity dinner guest), which had the whole room up on their feet before John took his place at the front of the room.


John began his talk by discussing the particular challenges faced by touring companies, such as: unusable data due to GDPR regulations; lack of frequency (e.g. only visiting venues once a year); underestimating how hard it is for an audience to attend a one-night production on a yearly basis; how hard it is for an audience member to remember which companies/productions they have seen and how hard it is to build relationships with venues due to staffing changes.

He also quoted a stat from the Audience Agency, which stated that in an audience for a touring production, 33% would attend because of the touring company and 67% would attend because of the venue.

OAE’s solution to these challenges can be summed up in one word — engagement. John’s advice was to concentrate on that 33% and the staff at each venue, so they are loyal to your organisation and become your biggest supporters.

‘Love Bombing’ Venue Staff

John stressed the importance of going to the venue and building relationships with the people who work there. He described OAE’s tactics as ‘love bombing’ the staff, so they are on your side above all other companies that they work with. He said that as a producing company you have more engaging work to sell than “a dog from Britain’s Got Talent”, so you can remind the staff why they fell in love with the arts, re-affirming their mission and sense of purpose that can get lost.

An attendee from English Touring Opera also gave an example of a ‘Digital Day’ that they provided to the marketing teams of venues they were attending, which included watching a rehearsal of the production and a chance to interview the creatives behind the show. The impact of this was so tangible that they are looking to repeat this as a Facebook Live event, so that more venues can attend.

Having previously worked at a receiving house venue, I know that I would have loved the chance to speak to the creatives behind some of the touring shows we were promoting. Any chance to access additional content above the brochure copy/press release would have been gratefully received and it was really interesting to hear about how touring companies are pro-actively working towards this.

Content Over Sales Messaging

When discussing how to engage with and grow the 33% of regional audiences that are loyal to you, John’s advice was to concentrate on content. OAE have had success with their programmes, which they have complete control over.

They made the decision to go with a full colour programme, increase their branding within and offering information on OAE that tells their audience why they should be interested in the organisation, other than their future productions. The programmes are also free, which is another benefit to the audience.

John also talked about changing their exit flyering strategy. Instead of handing out leaflets to their next production, OAE created thank you cards that included a personal recommendation from an orchestra member for a future OAE production. The aim was to avoid an overt sales message and instead build on the personal relationship with the audience member.

This is also the ethos they follow on social media. John’s tip here was to ‘be like a journalist’ and dig out stories about who you are and what you do. It should be fun and engaging, and John gave an example of a YouTube series they have created on period instruments, which OAE are having particular success with (one video in the series has amassed over 200,000 views).

The aim of all these strategies is to foster long-term engagement, building on the relationship with the 33% and trying to increase that number by drawing in some of the 67% through practical tactics.

Key Points

After the talk, there was an opportunity to ask John some questions before we all went to enjoy some drinks and networking at the Royal Court Bar & Kitchen, with John’s talk providing some interesting talking points.

The key take-aways included:

  • Focus on the audience that engages with you as an organisation, rather than the venue you are attending
  • Build relationships with venue staff — it makes a real difference
  • Concentrate on additional content — dig out stories about who you are and what you do
  • If time allows, provide opportunities for venue staff to curate their own additional content — call, Skype or meet them in person as they will thank you for it
  • Concentrate on the practical things that you have control over — personal touches help to build engagement

Thank you to John, the staff at the Royal Court Theatre, our London Member Rep and everyone that attended, it was a great event and I look forward to the next one.

AMA has regional membership representatives across the UK. You can find your local rep and dates of network meetings here.

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