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7th August 2018 Jemma Green

My AMA conference 2018 Highlights — Helen Hartstein

Helen Hartstein, Audience Development Lead at The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM), Exeter

My first AMA conference is over and what a fabulous experience: inspiring, exhausting, challenging, moving and fun! So, after an intense couple of days, what have I taken away from the conference?

Deborah Williams’s opening keynote, a disabled black woman, speaking about diversity in the voice of a white, able-bodied man, set the tone. We need to see things in a different way. Things are not what they seem.

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp talking about the value of the arts – “A young person does not need to learn about the value of the arts, they just need to do it.”

Yellow brick and PlayARK – the value of play in bringing people together and starting new conversations. It made me think about how we could connect with audiences through fun, playful experiences. We already do a lot of this at RAMM, but we could do more.

The practical tips from Daniel Rowles about how to develop an influencer strategy were incredibly useful. Often at conferences you find yourself inspired but don’t know how to put what you have heard into action. Daniel’s session was full of great practical advice.

Emma Rice’s fabulous keynote was playful, challenging and inspiring and the audience loved her. She left us with some memorable quotes such as, “If we are all going to go under, we might as well have fun doing it!”

The mindful leadership session with Tatiana Oliveira Simonian made me think about how I could be a better manager – and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house during Tatiana’s story about her dad during the keynote.

In keeping with the theme of play, there were some special outings to choose from. I plumped for the Terracotta Warriors in the World Museum. It was such a privilege to get a private view of this amazing exhibition and skip the queues.

The AMA knows how to throw a great party. The evening social events were fab and my surreal moment of the conference was finding myself listening to Eminem played on a ukulele at Constellations.

As a first timer (and recipient of a bursary – thank you AMA!) what I appreciated the most was the opportunity to connect with colleagues in other organisations, share ideas and experiences. They are a committed, barmy bunch of people and it was great to see how much they care. My only slight regret is that I didn’t meet more people from museums (if you are out there, do get in touch – @helenhartstein1)

I left feeling energised (if physically exhausted!) and fired up to make some changes. Well, as Emma Rice said, “What’s the worst that can happen? If it’s not death, why not give it a try?”