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What running a successful software platform taught me about rebuilding our corporate website

Kristin Darrow is Senior Vice President of Digital at Tessitura Network, one of the leading CRM and technology providers to the arts and cultural sector. Her team builds a platform to host, build and maintain on-brand and personalised ecommerce experiences for hundreds of organisations worldwide.           

Tessitura Network were Networking Sponsor at Digital Marketing Day 2017 — Getting to Know You.

I have been part of a lot of website projects in my career. Hundreds.

In fact, it’s not too reductive to say that building websites for arts and cultural organisations has been my entire career. So when my boss and our CEO asked me to run a little side project to redesign and relaunch our corporate website, I smiled and said “sure!”. Actually, I think I even said something MORE like, “riiiiiight!”. (Ah, that protracted vowel. It can mean so many things—genuine downhome enthusiasm… or a way to expel excess air from one’s lungs before large inhale.)

But why would I be nervous? Well. For starters, every website launch is a big deal. No matter how many projects you’ve been a part of, no two projects run the same way but they all require the right alchemy of resources and political tightrope walking to be successful. Second, mortise and tenon. An effective website is built with the mortise of clear company identity and the tenon of clear internal corporate process and operations. Where confusion lies in either of those directions, the website project is sure to find it. Third, this relaunch of the Tessitura Network website was personal. I love the company I work for and to do justice to the Tessitura community we serve and properly convey the Tessitura story, this project needed to be a complete overhaul of the existing site – a refresh of corporate brand and identity… a complete technical and design rebuild… a completely new taxonomy and search approach…  a whole new marketing and content strategy… plus a whole way to better connect the Tessitura user community to the thousands of pages of learning resources assets and product documentation.

This was going to be a giant project. (Riiiight.)

Most of my time these days is spent leading a product team who builds website-building tools and software components. So working on a bespoke, built-to-spec website was a little like me being a manager of a large factory that builds semi-custom housing and deciding to build a traditional house on the weekend. Some knowledge would readily transfer… and some things might need a refresher. Like what a hammer does.

As it turns out, what did serve me incredibly well was an early decision I made to think about this website project like I was running a product.  In fact, that’s exactly what websites are… products. And much of the product management/product ownership methodology in software building applies.

Here are a few product-building tenets I found valuable in running the website rebuild project for Tessitura.

A ‘think like a product’ approach to building a website:

1. Launch is just a release date. (There will be many more.)
A big mindset shift between product-thinking and website-thinking is that launch is a major milestone. Sure, celebrate that your new site went up. But be careful of “launch mentality” as it can lead to resting on one’s URLs. A product has hundreds (or thousands) of releases and the work is never done. So, too, the website. Launch day is just a day. And tomorrow should have new bug fixes and functionality to add.

2. Make one unified team (web vendors are people too).
Website builds often have a “client-vendor” flavor to them. “We are the client and we want you to do XYZ.”  On this rebuild project, we had two outside firms (one to do design, one to do build) plus a few Tessitura full time staff working on this (and a whole other internal “working group” team). That is a lot of people working across different time zones and speaker phones to make important daily decisions. This is often the case with building a product too – it’s not uncommon to loop in outside contractors at points in time. But the difference between website-thinking and product-thinking here is again, based in the idea that the project is never done. The veteran product team quickly folds in the outside contractor and does their best to make NO distinction between the “outsider” and the core team. They do this because on a long-running project the best way to get the most out of anyone on a project (vendor or not) is to incorporate them fully. So let go of the “us” vs. “them” thinking with your vendor (or even the other department you are collaborating with to build your website if internal) and set up a Slack channel.  Develop an open door philosophy across the entire working team. Do everything possible to make it feel like you check your titles and departments and company addresses at the door. Get to know everyone, even if just by voice through the phone. Ask how their weekend was. Tell them about your new dog. This is not just being nice, this has a direct impact on the outcome and quality of the site because building good rapport with outside engineers and designers helps them become first-hand advocates for your company. Not just temporary help.

3. Small steps with course-corrections are less costly than large steps.
Building a website is obviously time-intensive and can be expensive. There’s a concept in product development that is called MVP (Minimally Viable Product) which is essentially building the product/feature out just as far as it will be useful and then observing how it is used in the wild before investing in further changes or additions. This does two things. It allows the product (your website) to be user-guided in its design based on real usage feedback and also allows the website user to see the site continually improving over time. Added benefit: if you “improve” things but it gets a bad reaction, you can always roll it back because you are releasing in small, incremental slices rather than one monolithic chunk.

4. Where’s the data backing that?
Following on from #3, customer input is important but nothing beats data for telling you where things are working on your website and where things are not. This one is rather obvious but just because it is obvious doesn’t mean it is easy to do. The secret here is finding an internal website data advocate (they can be in any department – remember, a website crosses all departmental boundaries!) who is interested in data crunching and task them with setting up the standard web usage reports your company needs to see regularly. Hopefully, this same person can also be a point person for answering and researching any specific questions that will inevitably come up from the data. Getting good, ongoing insight from your website analytics should be part of your build and staffing strategy and (post-launch) should be core to any discussion that asks “what should we do next on the website?”. For the Tessitura website project, we did this exact thing. We set up a small working group (led by one very knowledgeable person) to develop a regularly distributed report of website numbers across the company and that person will also track down answers to questions as they come up.

5. There will be bugs.
We all know bugs and defects are inevitable in any piece of technology. Don’t get me started on iOS11! Product-thinking means that bugs and defects don’t throw off your budget and timeline. They are planned for and factored in (in advance) when planning budget and time for future releases. If you don’t have a separate line item in your budget for “break-fix” and “site improvements” this should tell you something.

6. Post a “recent website updates” page to your new website and keep it updated.
You know how mobile apps tell you in 3 bullets what was recently added/fixed? That builds trust and transparency with the person using it and reassures them (and your boss) that the technology is being well-tended. As websites increasingly serve as the primary channel for your patrons and customers to your entire organisation, it makes sense to have a place to post news and information about new features and resolved issues for your website. Trust-building equals loyalty-building with your customer and it can take many forms. Maybe not all people will be interested in this page but you can count on it scoring big points to some in your community.

7. Effort at launch day should be the same effort a year later.
It sounds obvious but still seems a huge mindset shift, even for me. What if we were to take the money it takes to rebuild a website every 3-4 years and distribute much of that over time to provide better upkeep and evolution of the site we have now? Would it keep us from having to do big-bang projects as often? Would it provide a better customer experience day-to-day?  Likely. With the new Tessitura website, we intentionally built it to have a long shelf life and to be adaptable in a few key ways. First, we limited customisation to underlying technology platforms (using native components as often as we could and lightly styling them) which we hope will keep upgrades to those technology platforms easier. Second, we designed the site to allow the aesthetic design to be easily adapted (use of big header images which can be swapped out, easy change of site colours when we wish, etc).  That way, we hope to adapt the design over time without having to do a whole new design/rebuild project. We tried to build it like a big black and white box which we could flexibly add content and adorn as needed. These, along with trying to budget more evenly year over year will allow us to issue more frequent updates and improvements to the site and will hopefully get us a long way toward an evergreen and flexible website as our company and business continues to evolve.

We are not alone #CultureHive SmallScale

Kathryn Lambert from Span Arts attended the CultureHive Small-Scale Development Programme in October 2017 — here she shares her key takeaways and thoughts on the residential.

I applied for the Arts Council of Wales bursary to attend the Small-Scale Development Programme as I am fairly new in post running Span Arts and wish to re-energise the organisation. The organisation suffers from a wide range of challenges, coupled with the fact that it serves a rural area and I was in need of some inspiration.

Leicester, was a long way to go from deepest West Wales to find some kindred spirits and a shot of expertise and advise.  I was worried the journey wouldn’t be worth it, but as soon as I arrived at College Court, I felt inspired and that I had met a group of people who were all struggling with very similar challenges.

In fact, I instantly saw one delegate publishing on Hootsuite, whilst I chatted to another about all of the responsibilities she covered in her role and I knew I had found the right place.

The course tutors were an inspirational team of professional women who shared an inordinate amount of experience and expertise between them.  Each tutor had an almost uncanny knack of cutting through any waffle to get the most salient points of all of the topics covered.

I was particularly inspired by Mel Larsen’s session on vision, who asked the poignant questions about why our organisations exist and what the future would look like without them.  She told us to imagine what the world would look like if all things were possible and backed it up by sharing ambitious examples of others.  She spoke of Oxfam, who strive to achieve a ‘world without poverty’ and reminded us to articulate a vision that was aspirational rather than achievable.  This seemed like a brilliant idea to me. I also found my 121 with Jo Taylor a real boost. She told me to take it slow and that great things can still be achieved by stealth and with patience.

Throughout the 2 days I kept meeting like-minded, creative and courageous individuals. I was thrilled with the national remit of the group, and the fact that at one point you could sit next to someone who was a specialist in Italian baroque music and another time talk to someone about belly dancing.

Key things I’ve learnt:

  • We are not alone and the challenges we face are not all of our making!
  • That folk and contemporary dance are hard artforms to sell everywhere, not just in Pembrokeshire!
  • That we would benefit from using more creative ways to find out what people think and want.
  • That people who work in the arts sector are lovely people.

The course was intense and I absolutely loved the way that it was kept on schedule. It was really respectful of everyone’s busy lives and ensured that we didn’t waste a minute!

It’s very rare to access such high quality professional development in the arts from Pembrokeshire, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.  All I need to do now, is find the time to implement the lessons learned to help find a robust way forward for Span Arts.

Image of College Court, courtesy of Kathryn Lambert

Become a Caption Hero

Captioning Awareness Week is an annual campaign from Stagetext, which raises the awareness of captioning and live subtitling within the arts, giving access to d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences. 

This year Captioning Awareness Week is happening right now, 6 – 11 November, and the campaign has a ‘superhero’ theme – ‘Be a Caption Hero’ – encouraging individuals to take action and spread the word about captioning.

What can you do to be a Caption Hero?

Spread the word: Many people still don’t know about the accessible the events, exhibitions and talks you may be offering. By updating your website with accurate access information, as well as listing accessible dates on event pages, you and your venue can make a difference.

Promote your event: If you’re holding a captioned or live subtitled event during Captioning Awareness Week and haven’t already let us know, then we can still help promote you. Let us know any activities you have planned and we’ll make sure to share it with everyone.

Join Stagetext on social media: We want you to tell us what makes you a “Caption Hero” using #CaptionHero, post a picture with one of our downloadable signs, take part in competitions, and use our campaign filters on you profile pictures.

The campaign aims to reach the 11 million people in the UK who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing – that’s 1 in 6. We all know someone who may have some form of hearing loss and we’re asking those who may already be aware of Stagetext to pass on the message in any way they can.

Find out more about the campaign and all the ways you can join in on the Stagetext website.

An intense experience #CultureHive SmallScale

Amanda Wells from Celf Able received a bursary from the Arts Council of Wales to attend the Small-Scale Development Programme in October 2017.

I applied for an Arts Council of Wales bursary to attend the Small-Scale Development Programme (SSDP) because the opportunity arose at exactly the right time. Celf-Able has reached a point where it needs to consider how to grow going forward, and the SSDP seemed ideal as it would help us think strategically about this.

I greatly enjoyed meeting and working with the other delegates, some were from similarly small organisations to Celf-Able, some from slightly larger organisations. There was a great deal of experience and expertise and people shared freely and willingly. What was evident was that most of us don’t get much time to sit back and reflect and look at our organisations with a good overview, but this is crucial to sustainable development.

We were shown and had a chance to try out a number of tools and techniques, I will take these back to Celf-Able and we can go through them together as a group to work out where we need to go next. We will make time at board meetings for strategic planning, so that we are not chasing our own tails. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day running of an organisation and lose sight of the overall vision and mission, but now we are aware of and have the tools for strategic thinking we will make best use of them.

The residential was packed and intense, we were given so much information and so much to think about. It would have been good to maybe have another day or half-day, so that there would have been time to reflect individually on what we had learned. Since coming home I have been processing everything, and look forward to sharing it with the group, we will set a date and devote some time to working out where we’re at and what are our next steps.

I would like to thank the Arts Council of Wales for the opportunity to attend the course, and Lucy, Abby, Helen, Mel and Jo from the AMA for making it so informative and enjoyable.

Image courtesy of Celf Able

#CultureHive SmallScale Arts Council of Wales bursary recipient

Rachel Miller, Artistic Director at Avant Cymru received a bursary from Arts Council of Wales to attend the CultureHive Small-Scale Development Programme last week. She originally wrote this post on the Avant Cymru blog.

Day One
So today we evaluated our mission and vision statements, this is something we wrote over a year ago and the message is very much the same, however we have fine tuned the sentences today and you can check these out on our website.

It was really interesting to speak to the other dance and theatre companies in the room to reflect on how we are similar and how we differ. In reflection Avant’s commitment to the valleys is our USP. The stories that come from the valleys are diverse and we are free to use all kinds of performance styles and educational experiences to share these stories, this is evident in our 2018 programme with ‘Blue Scar’ (a hip hop dance production) and ‘Forget Me Not’ (a semi immersive play). They are distinctive to our company as they reflect the valleys, however they are very different performance styles and we are proud of our versatility in being able to showcase these styles with talented Avant casts.

Today had reaffirmed that we are on track and the mission and vision statement have confidently been added to our business plan.

Word of today : Confidence, why because Avant are on mission and heading towards our vision. Looking forward to tomorrow when we can analyse how we can share this mission with more audiences and at a variety of venues.


Day Two
We worked alot on brand today and on what is important to us. We are passionate about our community and the stories it has to share and we want to be the leading theatre company creating these performances in the valleys, performances that speak to and for our community. We have always wanted to celebrate the valleys rich past, discuss the issues that are in the present and look to create real change and ambition in the future. We believe we have taken the right steps to achieve these aims and today has been a great opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what is still left to do.

We’d love to know what you think about our social media output, our website and our posters that are around town. Why not follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, keep in touch and tell us what you think.

Patrick Thomas designed our Rhondda Road poster, Patrick is an 18 year old from Treherbert, he came to work with us on the Blue Scar project and designed the logo for the show. We want to nurture local talent and by creating paid opportunities to local talent we want to be able to support other young creatives in the same way. But here’s the question… did you know this? Are we shouting out about our commitment to this area enough? Do you want to see the Rhondda’s stories shared in local productions and in national/international tours? How can we involve you to help champion our work?

I got to sit next to other touring companies today and discuss who to market to new audiences in new locations, I heard from a playwright whose play reflects British/Trinidad culture, the response for the play sounded amazing, it engaged with new and current theatre audiences who wanted to engage with a new culture through theatre. It is something we consider alot, especially with Rhondda Road and people’s concerns that a soap opera will shine a negative light on the valleys, so we would love to hear from you. What do you want to see? Do you know about Blue Scar and Forget Me Not, if not want can we do to make sure the news reached you?

In reflection after today, if our brand is to truly reflect the valleys we need you guys, so please do talk to us and tell us what you think about what we are doing and what you would like us to do.  We are a ‘Forward Thinking Theatre Company’ and we want to think with you.

Right back to the business plan!! Until tomorrow, goodnight all.


Day Three

We got to discuss evaluation today, one of my favourite things, mixed with an idea to create an excel document to monitor the feedback, I suddenly feel right at home. Evaluation is such a powerful tool, we use it often in Avant to be able to influence the shows and events that we produce.

However today I started to consider how I share this evaluation with others, I often create conclusions from the data I gather and I am able to plan the next steps due to gathering this data, but I am not very good at sharing this process with others. Well until now, I can see that I will be creating a few excel documents over the next week so that the aims and objectives of ‘Rhondda Road’, ‘Blue Scar’ and ‘Forget Me Not’ are clear for all in the team. I often get told to delegate, however I worry that through delegation Avant’s vision and missions will be lost, a clear document which sets out to achieve Avant’s aims will help me to inform and empower colleagues to take on more roles for Avant.

Second thought of the day is the difference between marketing and outreach. We love outreach, we believe that engaging in new theatre audiences is important, we are starting to reach new theatre audiences. However, and I apologies for this, we have neglected those who are already interested in theatre by not marketing to you.

How can we improve our marketing?

Do you already attend theatre? What can we do to sell (yes sell) our shows and opportunities to you? We know that we are creating high quality shows that appeal to those who enjoy theatre, we know this from our evaluation, but we are not reaching you at the moment.

We know we need to gain your trust so please do give us a chance, come and chat with us and let us know what you think about our marketing.

It has been a productive three days, I have spent time reflecting and getting our first business plan draft on paper (well I say paper, but it is 2017 so I mean on a computer programme, but it doesn’t sound so good)! I have gained a new strategic action plan for our projects and Alan has been briefed, he will be receiving a number of excel documents shortly! Finally I have made meaningful connections with other arts practitioners and we have all had a valuable experience.

Thank you AMA for your programme and thank you Arts Council Wales for supporting Avant to have this time to get the business in order so that we can focus on creating high quality, professional, relevant, dance and drama.

 

Image courtesy of Rachel Miller.

Sponsored post: The Value of Ice Cream #AMAconf

Tessitura Network were headline sponsors of AMA conference 2017 and keenly engaged with The Value of Everything theme. Here, the Networks’s Brooke Gallagher tells us what she expects from her arts and cultural experiences and how thinking about ice cream isn’t a bad place to start.

I’ve been working in arts and culture for half of my life now. Fifty percent of my years. That is terrifying. And if you regard selling ice cream as art (which I most certainly do – I worked in posh ice creaming), then we are getting closer to two thirds. If you count performing in shows as work – and once I reached a certain level of ‘seniority’ at Fame (my musical theatre training school) I did get paid for all the school holiday shows we did so I’m counting that as work – then we’re now up to three quarters. Did I mention I got paid five Australian dollars more per show when I was the rear end of the cow in Fame’s school holiday production of Jack and the Beanstalk? I was working.

Growing up, not only in the arts but also in the world in general, my taste in things like ice cream and music theatre have changed and matured*. I’m no longer happy with a basic home brand imitation of vanilla – I want to see those little black flecks that prove how delicious it is. I don’t eat pre-sliced white bread any more – I’ll take the seeded rye sourdough thank you very much.

I have also developed in terms of what I expect from my cultural experiences. I don’t settle for basic home brand imitation vanilla any more. I want my experiences to be meaningful and valuable; I need them to make an impact on my thinking and my emotions. I’ve had the incredible luck to work for a variety of excellent arts organisations of different flavours and sizes throughout my career; from running operations for theSpaceUK at EdFringe to managing the brilliant box office team at the beautiful Richmond Theatre and more recently working cross-departmentally with Tessitura at the artistically unparalleled National Theatre. Throughout this journey I’ve worked with an array of business tools and what I’m happy to work with (or put up with) has also changed and grown.

“Tessitura has helped us in almost all aspects of our day-to-day work in the theatre. Our education team’s work is organised, our development team’s output is maximised, our ticketing operation is straightforward, and dynamic, and our data can be easily reported on in a multitude of ways.”
Sophie Beattie, The Old Vic

I want to work with passionate people in a thriving arts community. That’s how I ended up at the Tessitura Network. Every single person I work with is 100% committed to excellence. You can see it in the unparalleled technical support we provide. You can see it in the way we work with cultural organisations to implement Tessitura to fit your business processes (not force you to work ‘our way’). And you can see it in our annual learning and community conference where over 1800 people come together to talk marketing, ticketing and fundraising while also running 5k at the crack of dawn, popping off to a local baseball game and sharing their musical talents with the rest of the us at the final evening party.

I’m extremely proud of where I’ve ended up and of what we at the Tessitura Network do on a daily basis. We don’t settle for ‘good enough’ and – I’ll be honest – sometimes that is hard. Sometimes that is tiring. But that is why we’re here. Do you have a partner that works with you for your business critical systems like ticketing, marketing and fundraising? Or do you have a supplier who walks away at 5.01pm and tells you ‘Take it or leave it’? At the Tessitura Network, we’re always here for you.

Get in touch. bgallagher@tessituranetwork.com

*If you do not believe Grease 2 is the best musical movie of all time it is most definitely you whose taste in this particular area hasn’t matured. Yes it is.

 

Prosper organisations announced

Prosper logo

The AMA is one of the partners helping to deliver the Creative United programme, Prosper. Today the cohort of 70 organisations and individuals across the arts, museums and libraries which will benefit from free business support through the programme have been announced. This cohort includes cutting edge artists, innovative library services, enterprising museums and much-loved arts organisations.

Prosper was designed and launched by Creative United with funding from Arts Council England,  Access – the Foundation for Social Investment and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and is delivered in partnership with the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University and the AMA. It will enable those in the cohort to grow and develop into more resilient organisations, better able to attract income from a variety of sources as well as pursue their creative and social missions.

The application period for the programme ran from 27 March to 31 May 2017. In that time 260 organisations, sole traders, local authorities, charities, enterprises and artist practitioners applied from across England. The selected cohort represents companies of all sizes and types, with specialisms including contemporary dance incorporating VR technology, promotion of sub-cultures, youth theatre, clowning, design for the stage, music education, museums of social history and community libraries.  81% are based outside of London.

Over the next 9 months the cohort will work with a specialist business advisor to tackle areas such as strengthening business plans, empowering their teams with innovation and enterprise skills, identifying new business models and understanding the value of their own assets and intellectual property (IP). They will also have the choice of participating in a range of masterclasses, workshops and webinars designed for all levels – from CEO to project assistants, shop floor workers to trustees.

During this time, the Centre for Business in Society will carry out what promises to be vital research in England and Scotland (thanks for support from Creative Scotland) into the current provision of business support available for arts and culture, and an evaluation on the drivers and journeys of those organisations entering into business development projects with Prosper support.

The AMA is creating an online resource on CultureHive which will not only tell the stories of those going through the Prosper programme, but also link to other business support toolkits and programmes, and share the learning from Prosper with the wider sector.

More information about the selected organisations can be found on the Creative United website.

 

ACE National Portfolio — Sector Support Organisation

Arts Council England announced today that the AMA will become a Sector Support Organisation, receiving £942,572 in funding between 2018 and 2022.

The AMA empowers individuals working in the arts, culture and heritage sector to be the best that they can be and drive a thriving sector. The AMA has nearly 2,000 members, working at all levels for organisations in the UK and beyond.

This funding will ensure that several major projects can continue, including the CultureHive website — a hub of approximately 1,500 resources, case studies, interviews and articles available free to everyone and already used by 70,000 people a year. It also guarantees new editions for innovative initiatives including the Audience Diversity Academy, Digital Marketing Academy and Small-Scale Development Programme.

Cath Hume, CEO of the AMA, said:
“I am delighted that we join the National Portfolio as a Sector Support Organisation. In practical terms it means initiatives that the AMA have realised and managed in recent years are able to continue thanks to this funding from Arts Council England. It will increase our impact across the sector, for our members, the organisations we work with, and ultimately their audiences.”

Tim Wood, Chair of the AMA, said:
“It is because of the hard work of the AMA team and the continued success of our programmes and CultureHive that we have been awarded this funding. I am enthused that Arts Council England have recognised this, meaning that the AMA can do even more to support arts and cultural professionals connect the public with art, culture and heritage.”

 

Image: Sheffield Theatres, Chester Hayes as Billy Casper with bird in Kes. Image by Johan Persson.

Shared Ambition – participating organisations announced

Marketers and fundraisers working together in organisations in England applied to take part in an exciting new action research project, Shared Ambition — fundraising and marketing together, managed by the AMA in partnership with Baker Richards as part of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme.

This action research programme will explore collaboration between fundraisers and marketers to better achieve their organisation’s objectives, including:

why fundraisers and marketers benefit from working together
how this happens now and how it might be further improved across the sector
what effective collaboration looks like
what impact this can have

The programme was over-subscribed with the AMA receiving a number of very strong applications. The 13 organisations that have been selected to take part represent a variety of art forms and are located in various regions across England.

The selected organisations are:

Artichoke
Cast
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Eden Project
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
National Portrait Gallery
National Theatre
Northern Stage
Royal Opera House
Royal Shakespeare Company
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
The Roses Theatre


Cath Hume,
CEO of the AMA, said:
“We are delighted to offer this incredible programme to a diverse group of organisations, all at different stages in their journey to bring fundraising and marketing closer together. The research phase of this programme will help us determine what the challenges of this are, and the organisations will then benefit hugely from a highly-tailored residential training programme. I can’t wait to see the learning outcomes of this programme for these organisations and even more so, for the sector as a whole.”

Participating organisations will be asked to share their stories to help inform and inspire others across the arts, culture and heritage sector. This will include the projects and experiments that come out of the Shared Ambition programme and will be shared via the AMA on CultureHive, as blog posts, case studies or interviews.

Michelle Wright, CEO Cause4 and Programme Director, Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, said:
“The Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy programme aims to strengthen cultural organisations’ resilience and sustainability by transforming their fundraising knowledge, skills and levels of success. In conjunction with founding partner the AMA, this Shared Ambition project, led by Baker Richards, is an important action research activity to investigate and develop better integrated practice between marketing and fundraising functions. Most importantly, through the diverse range of organisations selected to take part across England, we hope that it will establish some guidance to share sector-wide about the considerable income generation opportunities that can emerge from better collaboration between marketing and fundraising teams within all levels of organisation.”

Find out more about Shared Ambition — fundraising and marketing together.

Follow the participating organisations journeys’ on the AMA Blog and on Twitter @amadigital using #SharedAmbition

Conference Catch Up — AMA Head of Programme

Lucy Jamieson, Head of Programme here at the AMA, reveals why she’s so excited about our final keynote speaker at this year’s AMA conference.

Something very exciting has just happened here at AMA HQ, and we want to shout about it. We’ve announced performer, writer, presenter, nightclub founder, former Mayor of Camden Town, current London Night Czar, and LGBTQ activist, campaigner and spokesperson, Amy Lamé as the closing keynote speaker at the conference next month.

And I think this is pretty big news, not just because Amy’s a bit of a hero of mine (she is), but for the reasons why she’s a hero. This is someone who in the 1990s co-founded one of the most enduring queer club nights in the UK — Duckie at the Vauxhall Tavern. When it began it was like nowhere else — a bizarre, colourful, proudly uncool mishmash of music, styles and people, which defied you to take yourself too seriously. And it’s still going strong today, despite an aggressive trend towards closing venues down and turning them into nondescript high street chains, or the seemingly ubiquitous ‘luxury’ apartments that no actual people can actually afford.

Something else that I admire, and that I think is hugely important, is her refusal to fit into any one box. A self professed ‘lesbian in a gay man’s body’ and ‘fat feminist’, she embodies a range of identities and opinions, making us challenge our own preconceptions of what it is to be a woman, a lesbian, a writer, a performer, fat, an activist. And this embodiment of many different things all at once allows her to be lighthearted, funny and camp, but also deadly serious — never shying away from her left-wing politics.

And in this weird political time we’re living through; a time of conservatism and Conservatism, when culture and creativity are receiving a political bashing, I think it’s more important than ever that we have someone like Amy to get us talking, and not shying away from the big and sometimes uncomfortable issues.

Join Amy and Lucy at AMA conference 2017 — The Value of Everything.

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