25 Years of #AMAconf
When starting the AMA 25 project, we knew we had to include a story that celebrated the past of the AMA and the history and growth of AMA conference. With AMA conference 2019 marking the end of our celebrations, it gave us the perfect opportunity to create a tangible piece of work, that delegates could enjoy and interact with, but the question was — what could that be?
We began by raiding our archives, and quickly realised that we could tell the story of AMA conference throughout the years. We found old tote bags, programmes, articles and maps, each depicting the individual conference identities and these items quickly led us to the idea of a timeline.
The next stage was to fill out the timeline. We found items from almost every year from 1999, but there were gaps that current team members couldn’t fill. With a little help from past AMA teammates, we were able to work out the location and title of every conference — including a gap in 1995, which meant that 2019 was our 25th conference (a serendipitous occurrence).
Excited by our finds, we then had to look at the logistics of creating and displaying something at conference. Our first consideration was where and how we could display something at the venue. With the larger exhibition and inclusion of the AMA Connect Pods at AMA conference 2019, there was very limited space available (apart from the third floor, the timeline’s eventual home), which ruled out anything too large and meant that the display had to be freestanding.
We also had to look at how we could transport our display, what minimal budget we had and the timeframe we had to produce a physical piece of work. The answers to our questions then gave us the dimensions of our timeline — a lot of work before even considering the design of the piece.
Once we knew the size we were working to, we went back to our treasure trove of conference items and realised we had to whittle down our finds (there were too many tote bags to display) but how?
Whilst the timeline would be a nice piece to show, we hadn’t decided on what we wanted it to achieve and putting our finger on the aims of the project is what helped us to decide on the items to display on the timeline.
As an organisation we are constantly evolving and through the items we had collated, we saw the evolution of not only the conference branding, but also the sustainability of what we were producing for the event.
From the early years of stock images, paper sign up forms and unrecyclable coated wallets to the fully branded A5 lanyard guides printed on FSC certified paper that delegates currently receive, we understood that the timeline would be a representation of how AMA conference has been ahead of the curve in not only theme but also environmental concerns (even though there is still plenty more that we can do) as well as being a nostalgic trip for our most dedicated AMA conference-goers.
The final piece of the puzzle was integrating the items for the timeline with the 2019 conference branding, and luckily the wires within the branding enabled us to do this quite easily as they linked the design of the timeline to the event and provided the actual ‘line’ for people to follow.
We had the boards pre-printed for ease, which meant that all the team had to do at the venue was put up the boards (straight and in the correct order of course) and then pin the items to the boards, making sure that delegates would be able to look through any multi-page items we added to the display.
From the start of this project, we had to visualise everything as we couldn’t do a ‘test display’, so the moment we stepped back to appreciate the completed timeline was a big one — did it make sense? Was it visually impressive? And most importantly, did it celebrate 25 years of AMA conference?
Well we thought so, and after hearing feedback from our delegates, we’re certain they agreed. Upon viewing the timeline, one delegate realised that she had been to almost every AMA conference, and people were making their way up 3 flights of stairs to view the display, which was a big ask of our delegates with their very tired feet.
Seeing how AMA conference has evolved over the years has been an inspiring experience and hopefully future AMA team members will repeat this project in some shape or form (say our 50th birthday) so we can see how AMA conference continues to grow and impact the arts and cultural sector in the future.
All images — AMA conference 2019 (c) Marion Botella