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Inclusivity and Audiences Symposium — setting the tone

11th February 2019 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Image courtesy of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival — Jazz Dance Workshop at Jazz ReFest 2018

What is it about?

How does diversity feature in your work? And how does it feature in your approach to audiences?

This one-day event will challenge you. It will equip you with confidence to make changes and shape your workplace at a new level.  You’ll gain an understanding of how the intersections of society goes beyond segmentation and profiling.

You’ll hear from speakers who will share good practice and help you clarify your approach in engaging new and diverse audiences. Challenge your ideas about inclusivity and equity in relation to audience engagement. Leave with practical tools and strategic ideas to implement straight away.

What will I gain?

— Confidence talking about diversity and placing it within strategic thinking

— Tips on how to put into action an effective approach to engaging more diverse audiences

— Space to challenge your own thinking

Read more

Mentor Myth-Busting

While the benefits of having a mentor may be considered obvious, often the benefits of being a mentor are overlooked. We aim to shed some light on some of the myths about mentors, based on the feedback from past AMA mentors from our mentoring scheme


Myth 1: Mentoring takes up a lot of time.

You might be surprised to know that a successful mentoring relationship can be sustained on just 1 hour every 2-3 months. You can get a lot of ground covered in an hour, and having a regular – but not too regular – catch-up provides a good opportunity for both of you to take a step back from your day-to-day to review how things are progressing with both your professional and personal development in the intervening periods.


Myth 2: Mentoring won’t benefit me.

The basis of a meaningful mentor-mentee relationship is not one based around the mentor tutoring a passive protégé, but one where you bring different perspectives to each other. Working with a mentee can help bring new solutions. At AMA we look for a minimum of 5 years professional experience difference when pairing mentors and mentees. It’s not just about the professional experience though – the experience which a mentee at a different career-stage brings can shape mentor-thinking too. It’s tough to be across everything when digital technology and trends change so quickly – and the perspective of others from outside your circle should not be underestimated.


Myth 3: There’s no reason for me to be a mentor.

Getting the mentor-mentee partnership right is key – we want to pair you with someone that brings as much to the party as you do. So we look at what our mentors want to get out of it – perhaps you want to raise your profile, perhaps you want to develop your skill-set, perhaps you want the personal satisfaction of seeing the difference you can make or maybe you just want the experience for your CV… there are lots of reasons why you might want to start your journey as a mentor, and we work to deliver against your goals.


Myth 4: Mentoring is thankless task.

Mark Zuckerberg has spoken about the difference his mentor, Steve Jobs, made to his career. Okay, we can’t all be Steve Jobs. But you might be surprised the difference that you can make, and how motivating that feeling can be. But don’t take our word for it – here’s what some of our past mentors have to say:


“It’s really rewarding – and it’s helped me to realise how much knowledge I’ve accumulated over 20 years. I’ve also learned a lot from my mentees…it feels great to be sharing insights and giving something back”
Catrin John
Marketing and Communications Manager, Watershed

“Giving an outside perspective on somewhere else also helps me think more objectively about my own organisation”

2017 Mentor


AMA’s mentoring scheme runs periodically across the year. You can find more details about upcoming cohorts here.

Connect! with Creative Europe Desk: Event report

Connect! was a forum on the value of networks, held by the British Council and the Creative Europe desk.

Brexit clearly featured large, particularly as whatever deal (or lack thereof) occurs is likely to change how we work with Creative Europe after March next year. But the tone in the room was of determination to keep collaborating and networking and finding ways to keep connections going whatever the post-Brexit landscape brings.

Speakers included Creative Diversity Network, Doc Society, PRS, DCMS, IETM and AMA’s own Amy Firth was there to chair a panel with Neil Butler of AZ Arts, John Peto of The Nerve Centre, and Tania Santos from CRU Cowork on ‘Setting up Networks’ (pictured below, L-R).

The DCMS speaker, Victoria MacCallum, did a great job with a very difficult brief — updating on Brexit. While there was nothing too much to add to the general uncertainty, she did announce that there will be a Future Framework out in October that sets out what they hope to get for the cultural sector, so watch out for that. Government will be underwriting all EU funds awarded before March next year, but can give no guarantees beyond that at this stage.

There were some inspirational talks from Dawn Walton of Eclipse Theatres, sharing the success of their Black Men Walking project, and Deborah Williams of Creative Diversity Network. Deborah also spoke at AMA’s Conference recently – you can see highlights here.

Connect! followed on from last year’s event, Collaborate!, and we look forward – with bated breath – to see what 2019 will bring.

Picture of Connect Panellists

AMA new events launched

The AMA exists to help arts marketers, and those in related roles, make better and more connections with audiences.

We’re proud to launch our latest training and events for Autumn/Winter 2018/19, with a rich selection of online workshops, day events and residential training for all levels of experience. You can view the full programme of over 30 events here.

As an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, we also deliver training for the AMAculturehive programme.

Highlights include:

AMA members get discounts on event bookings and also access to bonus resources and support. Find out more about membership and what our members gain from working with the AMA.

We’re also excited to hold our annual Digital Marketing Day in two locations London and Glasgow on 5 December 2018. This event will give you:

  • Practical insight into how to better use and understand digital 
  • Inspiration to take forward exciting digital ideas and practical knowledge in how to implement them 
  • An understanding of the broader digital landscape, the journey so far and where cultural organisations sit within it  

Keynote speakers announced so far include globally renowned futurist and author Anne Lise Kjaer and Chris Unitt, founder of One Further, a digital analytics and user research consultancy. We can’t wait to share more details with you… Sign up for our news updates to keep in touch.

Tips for Developing Small Organisations

Photo by from Pexels

As part of #SmallOrgAug, we’ve been collecting the learning from some of our past delegates from our Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP) to share with you.


AMA has been running SSDP as part of the CultureHive programme, with support from Arts Council England, for a number of years, helping small organisations carve out time for some intensive business development and planning. We know it can be hard to make that time, but we hear so often the difference that making time can make. We’ve collected some of the learning and top tips from past delegates, and paired them with some resources to help others working in small organisations. (Some of the resources below are member-only – if you’re not a member, check out our Small Organisation membership and see what we could do for you.)


Tip 1) “Work differently by looking at long-term gain over short-term funding wins”

Rachael Perrin, Director, Soundcastle – read about her SSDP experience here

Getting the business model right means that even when funding is necessarily short-term, you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture – and you help ensure the continued sustainability and resilience of your organisations. This video explores a typical starting point for the business model of many arts and cultural organisations and helps you plan how you might need to change and adapt in the future.

Business models in the arts and cultural sector


Tip 2) “Marketing is the end product of vision and mission”

Christine Davis, Centre Manager, The Architecture Centre, Bristol – read about her SSDP experience here

The vision sets the direction for the organisation, and the mission takes you there: once you have clarity on this, your marketing can be more focused and effective, allowing you to make the best use of time and resource. This article from AMA’s member magazine JAM sets out some pointers on how to get this right:



Tip 3) “Define our strengths and distinctive identity”

Harriet Warnock, General Manager, Collective Encounters – read about her SSDP experience here

Your vision should make it clear what it is that makes your organisation distinctive. Building on this to inform marketing activity helps make more compelling connections. In this blog-post, Rachel Miller of Avant Cymru reflects on how identifying their USP and what made them distinctive helped them connect with their audiences.


#CultureHive SmallScale Arts Council of Wales bursary recipient


Tip 4: “Use [SWOT and TOWS] tools to test ideas and create a shared sense of direction”

Julie Gaskell-Johnson, Chief Executive, West Yorkshire Print Workshop – read about her SSDP experience here

SWOT and TOWS strategy sets provide a useful framework to help you develop, plan and inform different elements of your marketing and audience development strategies. They’re a good starting point when you’re looking to figure out key decisions.

SWOT | TOWS | Strategy Sets


The AMA is a Sector Support Organisation appointed by Arts Council England, who subsidise the Small Scale Development Programme (SSDP). SSDP is an AMA CultureHive programme that runs twice a year for £95+VAT for 3 days intensive training. For more details visit our Events page. 


Celebrating Small Organisations

Did you know there are over 40,000 arts and culture organisations with 10 or fewer employees in the UK? Collectively, those organisations represent a rich and important part of the UK’s cultural sector.

We’re working to raise awareness of the work of Small Organisations during August – with what we’re calling #SmallOrgAug – keep an eye on our Twitter feed for more details or sign up for our newsletter. Plus as well as sharing knowledge through connecting members, we are working to deliver resources that small organisations, and those working in them, can create the conditions for success.

To celebrate #SmallOrgAug, we’re launching a new Small Organisation rate for organisations which meet two of the following criteria – fewer than 10 individuals /turnover of less than £632k / £316,000 or less on its balance sheet  (a.k.a. what HMRC calls a ‘micro-entity’). You can see further details here – plus join in August and take advantage of our launch discount!

Below, we’ve collated some free resources designed to support your work:

We’ll be sharing case studies and more resources all month – follow us on Twitter  or register for updates to make sure you don’t miss out – plus if you have your own case studies and tips to share, let us know and we can raise awareness of your work:

Using Artist-led Play to Engage Audiences

July 2018’s Yorkshire Network meeting was hosted by Hannah Mason, at The Art House in Wakefield. Members of the Art House marketing and curation team spoke about engaging new and more audiences through their latest artist’s residency. The following extract is from Jen Garrick’s talk. 

Using Artist-led Play to Engage Audiences: an extract from AMA Yorkshire Network Meeting

Jen Garrick, Communication Officer, The Art House, Wakefield

The Art House Network Meeting

We’ve got a huge creative hub that we work with to find opportunities and support – and community, effectively. We also run a whole programme of residencies, workshops and classes, so it’s a real diverse offering. We do lots of different things.

With our artists in residence, they live here, they have a studio here, and they work for a month and at the end of that month they put on a show of some sort. It can be a work in progress, it could be finished work, in the main gallery space. That’s what we’re going to talk to you about today, is the experience of one of those residencies in particular.

Up to this point, ‘play’ has not been a big factor for us here at all. In fact, we’ve been quite insular. It’s been about the art and the artist, which is amazing, but there’s certainly been lacking an audience component to that. As marketers we all know that the audience is really, really crucial and activates the work. It brings life into the space. As one of our studio holders described it, “When it’s really good, it feels ‘fizzy’ in the building”. When people are getting it right, you’ve got that energy. That’s what’s really important, and the audience is what makes that happen. Read more

Announcing the AMA Freelancer Directory

We’re excited to launch our Freelancer Directory, a searchable listing of freelancers offering services to the arts and cultural sector.

You can filter by geographical area and/or service offered, and it’s available for anyone to browse.

It’s early days as we build it up, but there’s already a wealth of experience and expertise represented in there, and we’ll be adding to this as time goes on, following the launch of our new membership package for freelancers.

The new membership package gives freelancers a more affordable option which includes a listing in the directory, plus access to a closed, freelancer member-only email discussion group to share questions and learning. You can read more about the package here.

We’ve already had a really positive response to the directory from members looking to find freelancers in their area, and as we spread the word, we’re looking forward to seeing this grow. We’d love it if you could help us raise awareness by sharing the link , and whether you are a freelancer or someone who works with freelancers, we hope you find it useful as it develops.

UK Theatre Sales 2017

Stage CurtainThe recent figures published by SOLT showed a small decline in UK Theatre Sales, which is not necessarily indicative of a trend, but nevertheless something to be mindful of as the cultural sector as a whole continues to face challenges both in funding and in ensuring it is front of mind for potential audiences. You can view the full press release and further details online.

Further detail to unpack these stats would be useful, for instance around touring figures, or genre, to get a clearer idea of what these figures mean “on the ground”.  While the figures show that the average ticket price is increasing, we know that a lot of regional theatres are wary of over-pricing and are trying to keep prices accessible, for sustainability reasons. There is more incidence in the sector of demand-based pricing, which may account for the average price being higher, but that shouldn’t affect overall sales.

We know from members who work in regional theatre that there can be a battle with the perception of ticket price by their audiences. Anecdotally, shows that break the £20 mark are hard sells without a ‘name’ to draw in the crowds, but pantomime continues to be a key source of income for many theatre venues.

Pantomime hit record income in 2016, as reported in The Stage. The #myfirsttime hashtag on Twitter shows that many people’s first experience was indeed pantomime, with many people who now working in theatre having had their interest ignited in that way. As a “gateway” to culture, pantomime should not be underestimated, and while there are challenges faced by Theatre in attracting more people to engage, there are also opportunities. The Office of National Statistics claims that UK disposable income went up 2.3% in 2017 (ONS stats), so potentially this means more income available to spend on entertainment, and focused marketing activity can help bring more of those audiences and income through the door.


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