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21st July 2011 Sara Lock

Back to the Future (BNW5)

The morning after the day before; Steven Hadley reflects:

Blog 11 There may be some delegates at the AMA conference this morning with sore heads.

I may be one of them.

They say that all the best networking takes place in the bar, though it seems highly likely that ‘they’ invented this notion as a cover for being the ones still  in the bar.

Nonetheless, the morning after the night before, and that odd time when you have to check out of your hotel just at the point that you finally feel settled in, seems as good a time as any to take stock and reflect on #amaconf so far.

This year, Twitter has created a multi-personality conference experience, whereby you are able to get feedback, comment on and review multiple sessions as they happen. From a Board member perspective this is also vital and intriguing market research, giving an insight into the member experience, from keynote to coffee.

As much as all of our individual organisations need to navigate the social terrain, and to develop both policies for use and strategies for development, so too does the AMA. The conference is an ideal testing bed and learning ground for developing the organisational ethos to enable the AMA to remain (because I think it very much already is) an open, adaptable (dare I say resilient) and communicative organisation.

Much of the conference this year has seemed to me to be about so much more than arts marketing, and rightly so. Arts organisations revenue models are generally a three-legged stool, relying on funding, sponsorship and earned income/ticket sales. The first two are, by and large, in decline and that trend is set to continue. The third, that of audiences, tickets and attendances may also be in decline but I would argue that it also has the most potential for improvement. And in a time of limited/dwindling resources, we have to put our time and energy where it will yield most return. So this year we have heard about resilience, organisational development, leadership, high-performing times, flux, change and opportunity.

And perhaps again we are re-learning what we already knew. Perhaps again we are coming together to preach to the converted, to reaffirm truths we hold to be self-evident. Because if marketing and audiences aren’t at the heart of how your organisation thinks, lives and feels then there is urgent need for change.

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