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Staying true to yourself and vision

Four delegates who attended the AMA’s 2019 Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital — at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh share their key takeaways from the day.

I was inspired to hear several speakers talk about the engaged and loyal online communities that have emerged on their sites and social media channels and how they can shape their marketing and services. The majority of the speakers reinforced my belief that people-focused stories are most engaging to an audience.

The majority of the speakers reinforced my belief that people-focused stories are most engaging to an audience.

The honesty of Brand Scotland and tackling difficult issues on Scotland instead of hiding from them is something I will remember along with Russell Dornan’s (V&A Dundee) points about letting people’s opinions in but not necessarily needing to agree, and staying true to yourself and vision.

I would like to bring what I learned about website accessibility to any future organisation I work for and I now have tools to review, improve and benchmark sites. I will aim to use digital as a way to enhance visitor experience and knowledge and have seen the benefit of using different platforms and multiple creative engagement methods. All staff interaction with customers acts as marketing. As I have been part of a museum redevelopment project, I was particularly interested in Russell’s varied approaches to keeping content interesting in a museum that had not yet opened.

I met some lovely people at the event and I look forward to visiting some of them and to making use of resources I discovered.

Ellie Brennan, Creative Learning Assistant (Volunteer & Freelance), Paisley Museum Reimagined

The final keynote speaker really left a lasting impression. He spoke so eloquently about the industry and how to make effective change. I took away from the talk the importance of ensuring transformation and technology briefs are clear. Digital is everchanging and is no longer just something businesses do as an add on — it is all encompassing and should be at the forefront of businesses. This is not the case always and being able to clearly explain why we are making changes and the reasons for the changes needs to clear so that everyone can understand the benefits. It also ensures the understanding that innovation and change are not just happening for the sake of it. This needs to happen internally and externally by looking at digital literacy and implementing that into what we do so our customers and audiences can understand better.

Jude Duncan, Digital Marketing Officer, Scottish Ballet

The Beyond Digital marketing day was an interesting and informative day. The event was held in the beautiful surroundings of Dynamic Earth, where the staff were very welcoming and helpful in getting the most out of our day. The talks gave interesting points of view on how digital marketing is always important when targeting audiences.

Gavin Bell’s session on advertising has helped me to strip back our own advertising to the point where simple content has increased interest. We’ve gained more clients and sales just from creating notoriety within the content — be it a bass player wanting to increase memberships or a dancer wanting to increase sales in their classes. It sparked an idea to look into creating mini clips of dance styles and interviews with teachers about their chosen dance style to erase the common question of: “do you think I am right for this style of dance?”.

The day provided a wealth of knowledge and great networking opportunities for us.

The Website Accessibility talk from SuperCool highlighted areas where we felt that our own organisation could benefit from and tools that we could use to make sure our website was accessible to all who engage with it. We value inclusion as an important part of the ethos of our organisation. The day provided a wealth of knowledge and great networking opportunities for us. I would highly recommend this event for any organisation in the arts wanting to improve their digital marketing strategies.

Lyn Conroy, Marketing and Communications Officer, Dance Base: National Centre of Dance

Honestly, the Digital Marketing Day exceeded my expectations — all the sessions I attended had relevance for my work. A key takeaway was the importance and the value of maintaining relationships with my peers in similar positions, particularly those within visual art organisations in Scotland. I was reminded that, though funding regimes feel like they encourage competition, we often have common goals and face similar challenges, as well as limited time and resources. Working together can encourage more cooperative thinking, and the sharing of resources and creative solutions.

Rowan Lear, Communications Officer, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow


All contributors to this blog post attended AMA’s 2019 Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital — with an AMA or AMAculturehive bursary.


AMA’s Digital Bootcamp

Want to engage more online audiences with the work, events, services of your arts, culture or heritage organisation? The AMA’s Digital Bootcamp on 30 March at Rich Mix in London is aimed at people who are already working to reach and engage audiences online, and want to develop a deeper understanding to do that more effectively. The day will cover PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, email, conversion and content.

Video highlights

10 minute video highlights from AMA’s Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital —are now available to view in the AMA’s Members’ Area. You will need your member’s login to access.

Give people a chance to be part of what you’re doing

The AMA’s 2019 Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital — took place on 5 December 2019 across two venues — the Barbican in London and Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. We invited ten delegates from the London venue to write about their key takeaways from the day.

There was a really good session from Jon Sleigh on live streaming. He emphasised the importance of being clear on your values and principles and why you are live streaming in the first place. Florence Okoye’s session on ‘Mapping a Holistic Approach to User Experiencer’ was really practical — we worked with other delegates to talk about our audiences’ journeys and how we can streamline the user experience. Zak Mensah was an entertaining close to the day full of advice about how to ensure audience experience and customer care is embedded across the organisation and doesn’t just sit with marketing. The session was live streamed from Edinburgh very seamlessly and this got me thinking on the train home about how we can stream what we’re doing from our venue to the wider world — with knock-on environmental benefits. At lunch, there was some great advice on helping to safeguard colleagues from the pressures of social media at the drop-in wellbeing hub organised by Creative Freedom and Art Fund.

Alice Kent, Director of Communications, National Centre for Writing

Chris Unitt’s session on website accessibility gave me the impetus and advice I needed to audit Saffron Hall’s website for accessibility and make a plan for improving those areas. I recently put in place a new online booking system for access bookers at our venue. However, it hadn’t occurred to me the extent of the barriers that these users could be facing within our website, which could make the reform of the booking system unusable or obsolete if not resolved. We are also in the early stages of a website redesign so this seemed like a pivotal moment to educate myself about this topic.  I was able to make small changes to our website almost immediately, starting with our most-used web pages and pages with information specific to access users. I now feel empowered to make further changes to the website myself, as well as hold our web developers to account when areas of the website are redesigned in the near future.

Emma Hall, Marketing Coordinator, Saffron Hall

I learned about some really practical strategies that will be easy to enact in relation to my organisation’s digital content, as well as broader, more abstract ideas that change my perspective on my role as an arts marketer.

My main take away from the Beyond Digital day was an inspiration to create digital output that is accessible and engaging to a broad audience, and that is more than simply promotional marketing. I learned about some really practical strategies that will be easy to enact in relation to my organisation’s digital content, as well as broader, more abstract ideas that change my perspective on my role as an arts marketer. The entire event was thought-provoking and motivating, and I look forward to hopefully attending more AMA events in the future!

Kate Walker, Communications Assistant, Southbank Sinfonia

The keynote from Lisa Westcott-Wilkins and the session led by Rachel Walker were my highlights. Although Lisa’s field is very different from my own, I learned some valuable tips about audience acquisition and retention, that I can definitely relate to my own job at the theatre. I have already put the tools that Rachel talked about (most notably HotJar) into place in my organisation, and have been using them to gain information about my audience and how they use our website. I picked up some useful information from Chris Unitt’s session about how I can better use Google Analytics. This, combined with what I discovered using HotJar, will allow me to monitor changes I may make to the website, and see if they make an improvement. I also had a particularly useful one-to-one session with Arts Council England (ACE) ‘tech champion’ Dean Shaw, where we discussed the benefits of using video as a marketing tool, and how to create and edit your own videos.

Kirstie Ewer, Digital Marketing Officer, The Core Theatre, Solihull

My key takeaway from the day came from the lunchtime session with the Digital Culture Network who provided key insights into making your YouTube channel more effective. As an organisation we have a lot of content surrounding our productions and we’d like to use it to engage with our audiences who often speak so fondly of our shows. My plan is to use VidIQ as recommended by one of the ‘tech champions’, to see how long people are watching our videos for and how we might improve content for the future. I would also add on ‘end cards’ to our videos to keep our audiences engaged with Rifco content. Other key takeaways included serialising content, which could be implemented into an upcoming 2020 project, and using website layout.

Melissa Taylor, Marketing Coordinator, Rifco Theatre Company

The AMA Digital Marketing Day was an incredible way to end the year. The wide range of topics available to choose from meant that I was able to both broaden and deepen my knowledge of digital in arts and culture. We often say that digital is everywhere, but my big takeaway from the day is feeling that our digital platforms ‘are’ our organisation, rather than simply a space for hosting a part of the customer journey. Coming from an organisation with so many stories to tell, I now feel more confident in sharing them in a more considered and well-informed way. Our new blog has the potential to hold some unforgettable evergreen content that Shakespeare fans will come back to time and time again, and I’m excited to be a part of that.

Miki Govedarica, Digital Content and Social Media Officer, Shakespeare’s Globe

The insights Anthony Rawlins was able to share with regards to PPC (pay-per-click), retargeting and email marketing reaffirmed my belief in its necessity to help grow our brand.

I found the breakout session — Audience-First Marketing — to be the most aligned with the work I am doing/wanting to do within my organisation. The insights Anthony Rawlins was able to share with regards to PPC (pay-per-click), retargeting and email marketing reaffirmed my belief in its necessity to help grow our brand. The subsequent sessions I attended — Optimising User Journey and Data, and How to Listen — contributed additional insights and understandings towards this and discussions have now started within my organisation as to how we can update our website to ease the user’s journey and, hopefully, increase traffic to our site. There is a lot I hope to achieve including developing our mailing list to being more strategic in what information is passed onto our subscribers and implementing a PPC campaign to raise awareness of our brand as well as target specific audiences.

Rebecca Horrell, Marketing Coordinator, Rambert

I took a lot of learning back to my organisation, particularly about how we can utilise data differently, and how we can use it both to simplify the user journey for audiences, but also how we can do better in terms of looking at what our audiences want and need. I’m developing a new approach to data analysis, looking at connections that I hadn’t made before. I’m looking at how we can engage more with families digitally; increasing their engagement not only with our shows but with our classes and community work. The information about utilising social media analytics in particular was invaluable, and I’m looking more at my reach and the quality of engagement with our audiences.

Sairah Rehman, Marketing and Audience Development Manager, Z-arts

There was a great session on the Royal Academy’s membership page. By making some small changes they doubled the amount of people taking action when they got to that page. At the moment, ours are not optimal for mobile at all, and it was clear from the day that this is an important thing to remedy. I’m going to review our ‘Support us’ website pages using the free tool HotJar to analyse clicks on the pages and see if we can optimise them for usage. I’d like to work with our Digital Content Manager to identify a group of members/audience that are supporting but can’t attend anymore. Can we get these people regularly watching our live streams and engaging with our online video/story content? Can we utilise people and skills that we have in the organisations or through our partnerships to create more opinion-pieces and interviews for the Members’ News and Premium newsletter?

Siubhán Macauley, Development Officer, Liverpool Philharmonic

“Give people a chance to be part of what you’re doing” was my quote of the day

“Give people a chance to be part of what you’re doing” was my quote of the day and I believe this could help to steer what we do as a venue in 2020, which also happens to be the Hertfordshire Year of Culture. Making an audience feel invested in our venue, invested enough to want to come back and support the good work being carried out, can only bring positives. I just need to find a way of communicating what we do to help generate this feeling. Further thinking is required. And I really want to join the fun of DigVentures and help to dig holes … really!

Stewart Fairthorne, Marketing and Sales Lead Officer, The Old Town Hall
(part of Dacorum Borough Council)


All contributors to this blog post attended AMA’s 2019 Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital — with an AMA or AMAculturehive bursary.


AMA’s Digital Bootcamp

Want to engage more online audiences with the work, events, services of your arts, culture or heritage organisation? The AMA’s Digital Bootcamp on 30 March at Rich Mix in London is aimed at people who are already working to reach and engage audiences online, and want to develop a deeper understanding to do that more effectively. The day will cover PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, email, conversion and content.

Video highlights

Video highlights of the two Keynote presentations at the AMA’s Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital — are now available to view in the AMA’s Members’ Area— 10 minute video highlights of five of the breakout sessions will be published shortly. You will need your member’s login to access.

Implementing real strategic change

 

Debbie Bandara is Artistic Director of Forest Tribe Dance Theatre, who primarily focuses on directing and choreographing immersive theatre that reflects the diverse and inclusive world we live in. In this blog Debbie considers the issues discussed at the AMA’s Inclusivity and Audiences Day that she attended in Birmingham in November and the need to implement real strategic change.

Over recent years, there has been an increased awareness of inequalities in our sector. However, in order to make changes, we have to be conscious of the systematic difficulties within the structure of organisations. I was one of the participants of Leaders of Tomorrow supported by tiata fahodzi, 20 Stories High, Freedom Studios, Talawa Theatre and RYDTS, my knowledge base of diversity and inclusion was enriched and validated by the speakers. It clarified my aims and key milestones to make a positive difference.

As the IIAN (International Inclusive Arts Network) champion of England for ASSTIEJ UK, I am very much aware of the work created for and by inclusive organisations and artists. I observe and document inclusive work but in order for real change, there must be a platform where all organisations regardless of genre should come together with the main intention to support and remove barriers that encourage mobility within the sector.

The majority of the people that attended the AMA’s Inclusivity and Audiences Day in Birmingham in November were given permission by their organisation to be there. I gave permission for myself, self-funded, to listen to the speakers who spoke with passion, pain and frustrations. It made me realise how important it was for me to be there, a woman of colour, with a voice, and a vision to shift perspectives strategically.

It made me realise how important it was for me to be there, a woman of colour, with a voice, and a vision to shift perspectives strategically.

It seems some organisations are forward thinking enough to make changes to appeal to diverse and inclusive audiences. There really shouldn’t be any barriers, and all organisations should encourage their spaces to represent their audiences and listen to them so that they feel safe, accepted and included in all decision making.

I really want to see progress and action taking place now. There has been an influx of diversity and inclusivity courses, yet minimal change has occurred. It will happen through careful strategic planning and collaboration with the right partners who truly value the importance of supporting those who are not as fortunate as them, and open doors to those who are never given the opportunity. It’s a courageous step forward but one that needs to be done in order to make a real positive change.

Everyone is working in their own organisation and at times not fully aware of the shift that can be achieved if we are able to come together. In particular, many of the “open sessions” during the day consisted of producers , managers and officers finding it difficult to reach certain audiences, yet through conversation it was made apparent that being in an open space allowed new connections to flourish and form. It is creating a healthy ecosystem like this that will promote positive change.

It is creating a healthy ecosystem like this that will promote positive change.

The day was valuable on many levels, and I am still taking time to truly reflect on the wonderful speakers, especially Stella Kanu and Harpreet Kaur. I am already implementing key strategies discussed during the day and apply into my own practice for the future. With a background in Artificial Intelligence, I can see how important it is to ensure that gender, diversity and inclusion become integrated into the algorithms that target marketing to specific audiences, as this is a new platform that will require new skill sets.

Key takeaways:

  1. Importance of highlighting unconscious bias in diversity and inclusivity.
  2. That action still needs to be taken forward, those in power are not doing enough to shift the balance.
  3. To recognise my own skill set and and push for more pro-active change in the industry sector.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Debbie Bandara at hello@forest-tribe.com or @ftdancetheatre via social media platforms or visit www.forest-tribe.com to discuss implementing real strategic change for inclusivity and diversity in our sector for the future.


Video highlights of the Keynote and four Provocations at the AMA’s Inclusivity and Audiences Day 2019 — Smashing Systems & Building Blocks — Birmingham, November 2019 are now available to view in the AMA’s Members’ Area. You will need your member’s login to access.

Cultural space for the community

Image courtesy of Roundhouse ILINX, taken by Cesare De Gigli

 

 

When the Roundhouse opened as an arts venue in 1966 in Camden, London, it was seen as a vital space within its community. This remains true today and the Roundhouse’s local community is a big priority for the organisation. With the latest issue of JAM — the AMA’s journal of arts marketing — focusing on community engagement, we invited Tina Ramdeen to write about the Roundhouse’s youth and community engagement work.

Since reopening in 2006, following a huge refurbishment, the Roundhouse now works with 6,500 young people each year and 44% of those are from Camden. We’re proud that the young people we work with are also reflective of the city in which we sit — 41% of the young people are BAME and 58% live in the areas ranked as the most deprived in the UK.

We find that the barriers preventing young people from engaging in organisations are multifaceted and we are working to better understand that. For instance, you cannot always expect people to come to you. One of our key priorities is going out into our local community. Our street circus programme does a huge amount of work out in local housing estates in Camden. We take the art form to them in the spaces where they feel comfortable in order to build trust with us and our staff.

We take the art form to them in the spaces where they feel comfortable in order to build trust with us and our staff.

It is important there is a level of trust between other organisations involved in a young person’s life too. That is why we run a Community Network comprising 70 local organisations including housing associations, youth services, mental health specialists, youth and community centres, and homelessness organisations. The Network comes together once a quarter to share experiences, work towards shared goals and provide referrals for young people into the Roundhouse and externally when they need additional support. It also helps to build a picture of the bigger issues facing young people in our borough. We work with these local partners to deliver taster and developer sessions for young people, providing an entry point into our projects. Working in this way provides holistic support for each young person.

We run two projects each year — one music and one spoken word — where all the referrals are made by our community partners. OnTrack and Wax Lyrical are for 16 to 25-year-olds not in education, employment or training and throughout six weeks the group develop their skills, culminating in a final showcase of their work. Many young people have gone on to further training or found a job but it is the transferable skills that are transformed because of the network of support around the programme — allowing young people to be creative in a safe and supportive environment.

Our programme of work in schools also cements us in our local community. We know resources in schools and youth organisations have reduced but we are fortunate that we have the staff, industry equipment and a unique space to support local organisations and schools in addressing the gaps. If a local school wants to do a DJ workshop, we can facilitate that, we can host them here — it’s mutually beneficially to both of us — but ultimately young people get the chance to be creative and develop their skills. We see young people who have taken part in projects with their school, continue to come here independently, long after they leave school.

We have done a lot of work to recognise what culture is to our local community, ensuring that our space and offer is reflective of what they want — and this is often in tandem with local schools and community groups. Arts organisations often discuss the need to engage communities in our spaces but we need to recognise that people are already engaging with creativity, just in different spaces.

Earlier this year we worked with Battersea Arts Centre, NoFit State and Queen’s Crescent Community Association to present ILINX — a show created with 50 young people, combining circus, hip hop, beatboxing and DJ’ing. It was a specially created show that shone a light on the power of a community coming together whilst giving young people a safe space to express themselves through creativity. It offered us a real chance to respond to the challenges young people are facing in the borough and connect with the local community at a difficult time.

It offered us a real chance to respond to the challenges young people are facing in the borough and connect with the local community at a difficult time.

Whilst the Roundhouse may not be considered more diverse than the city it sits within, through our community work we do bring young people together who reflect our society. We want to give young people the opportunity to work alongside other young people who are different to them so they can learn and share experiences. This will ultimately encourage greater understanding of one another and push creative boundaries.

Head shot image of Tina Ramdeen from RoundhouseTina Ramdeen is Head of Youth Policy and Engagement at the Roundhouse.

Read the latest issue of JAM on community engagement. You will need your member login to access.

Watch out for AMAculturehive’s Community Engagement takeover, which will be taking place in January 2020 — in the meantime read more about community engagement on AMAculturehive.

 

Image courtesy of Roundhouse. Performance of ILINX presented in association with Battersea Arts Centre, NoFit State and Queen’s Crescent Community Association. © Cesare De Giglio.

Take a break from your computer screen and consider this…

The AMA is delighted that Creative Freedom and Art Fund have once again joined forces to create a space for conversations about mental health and wellbeing at this year’s Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital. Colin Beesting starts the conversation by considering the impact social media can have on the mental wellbeing of those working in the creative sector.

Social media is a wonderful thing. It has enabled us to make friends with people who share our passions and keep in touch with distant family. It has also given arts organisations the opportunity to connect with audiences and find new ones.

But with all good things, there tends to be a downside.

A number of studies have found an association between social media use and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating issues, and increased suicide risk. People can develop unrealistic expectations of their body or their lifestyle by viewing life through the edited lens of social media.

For those whose jobs combine social media use with the pressured environment of the workplace, a number of wellbeing risk factors collide — and out-of-work social media habits may not be helping. Abstention is unrealistic — but being proactive in finding mitigations might be. Offline conversations and time out to enjoy culture are both great ways to promote wellbeing.

For those whose jobs combine social media use with the pressured environment of the workplace, a number of wellbeing risk factors collide — and out-of-work social media habits may not be helping.

The Art Fund’s wellbeing report ‘Calm and Collected’ suggested that galleries and museums were an under-used resource for taking time out for ourselves. They’re a resource we know well — and many of us work in them — but are we using them to support our wellbeing? Maybe we should.

Creative Freedom was born out of a desire to change the conversation about mental health in the cultural and creative sectors. Talking about mental health can be difficult. If you’ve ever been concerned about the wellbeing of a colleague, but not spoken to them about it for fear of saying the wrong thing, you’ll know this. It’s a common fear — but one that could get in the way of someone finding the help they need.

If you’re thinking about how you can support your own mental health and that of your colleagues join us for a chat at the AMA’s Digital Marketing Day — grab a free cup of Pukka tea and let’s continue the conversation.

Drop in to the Wellbeing Hub at Digital Marketing Day — Beyond Digital on 5 December and chat to Creative Freedom and Art Fund about ways (cultural and non-cultural) to boost your wellbeing.

Head shot image of Colin BeestingColin Beesting is Founder of Creative Freedom.
Creative Freedom offers Mental Health First Aider training targeted specifically at the creative and cultural sectors, led by those with direct experience of working in the sector.

 

 

Image AMA conference 2019 © Marion Botella.

Smash and Build — taking the lead to diversify and challenge audiences

What is it about?

projects / data / policy / holistic practice / partnerships

Harpreet’s work focuses on embedding cultural practice into key areas including diversity, gender equality and climate change, locally and globally. In this session she will take you in-depth through an activity that will highlight how your work, ideas and decision making can connect with your audiences. Through the process, you will develop your practice to deliberate on what you do that has an impact on audiences.

Arts programmes and audiences do not exist in isolation — the socio-political context impacts both content and consumer. When political views are increasingly polarised, and extremist views gain ground, how can we address the challenges that this brings? When, how and where should people like you, who work with audiences, be challenging, adapting or diversifying in response? How far can you influence the parameters you are working within?

View more information on Inclusivity and Audiences Day 2019 and book your place.

What will I gain?

— A set of SMART objectives and actions for you to run with as soon as you return to your day job, that take into consideration the challenging political climate we need to navigate

— Identify and challenge your blind spots and barriers to inclusivity

— Tips to link your leadership and values to your role and responsibility

Who is it for?

This is a practical session for those wearing many hats in an arts, heritage or cultural organisation or those whose work seems to straddle conflicting outcomes.

Speaker

Harpreet Kaur | Harpreet Kaur Creative

Harpreet works within a cultural and international development context to facilitate social and global change. She has a portfolio career as a researcher, consultant, facilitator, and arts manager that focusses on embedding cultural practice into key areas including diversity, gender equality and climate change, locally and globally. Harpreet has worked with arts organizations, NGOs, charities, artists and policymakers from different cultures from all corners of the globe. A cosmopolitan globe trotter, Harpreet has mastered remote working and adapting to different environments and contexts rapidly. In the last five years, her focus has been on researching artists exploring climate change through a diversity lens. Her research and work has taken her around the globe with funding from Arts Council England, British Council and Creative Europe.

Harpreet is a former Powerbrokers International Leadership Programme Fellow (Cultural Leadership Programme 2008). She has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Australia as an arts manager on projects, events and festivals since her career began in 2001. Clients include Southbank Centre (London), Beijing Modern Dance Company (China) Mindspace (Budapest), Regional Arts Victoria (Melbourne) and Jagriti Yatra (Mumbai). She is an Artistic Quality Assessor for Arts Council England and has recently consulted for the national heritage, outdoor arts and community climate action sectors. Harpreet achieved an MSc in Gender and International Relations in 2014 and is an advocate for cultural diplomacy.

In 2014 Harpreet was awarded an International Anita Roddick Award by the Body Shop Foundation for her voluntary work, particularly with Initiatives of Change, a world-wide movement focused on trust and peace building. In 2017 Harpreet was selected as a BBC Expert Woman and has appeared on numerous media channels including BBC World News to share her expertise in Culture and Development. She is an experienced speaker on air and at international conferences about culture, security and development presenting for global audiences in numerous cities including London, Paris, Kiev, Vienna, Bucharest, Berlin and Melbourne.

Image courtesy of Harpreet Kaur (c) Marcin Sz

 

#AMA25 — celebrating 25 years of the AMA

25On the 22 October 1993 the Arts Marketing Association was registered as a limited company and the AMA was officially born. Over the past year we’ve been celebrating with a series of #AMA25 stories and the 25th and final story —  AMA’s 25-year timeline — has been published today.

A lot has happened in the world and in the arts and cultural sector since 1993 and this is reflected in the journey the AMA has experienced with its members over the past 25 years. Scrolling through the AMA’s 25-year timeline you can see the significant changes that the AMA and the wider sector have experienced in particular the impact digital has had on arts marketing and the way we communicate with our audiences.

The AMA evolved out of the need to help our members develop their marketing skills and knowledge and to professionalise this area of the sector. We’ve established supportive networks and we continue to help share latest thinking and good practice through our training, events and resources. In recent years we’ve started to help the sector to become more audience-focused, resilient and inclusive in its approach. And the collective #AMA25 stories reflect this ongoing evolution.

#AMA25
Our 25 stories aim to capture the essence of the work that the AMA does to support our members. We’ve shared the passion that drives our members to do the work that they do and their thoughts on the next 25 years. We’ve included stories on touring, music, dance, theatre, museums, libraries and festivals to show the breadth of art forms and organisations that our members represent. And we have stories on digital, fundraising, press and PR, ticketing, families and community engagement as well as a focus on the building blocks of arts marketing.

We capture the highs and lows of becoming a freelancer, explain why audience-focused leadership is so important and consider how the arts and cultural sector can make itself available and accessible to everyone. We spoke to AMA members from around the globe, celebrated the history and growth of AMA conference, invited past and present JAM editors to reflect on their time as editor and we launched our first AMA Member Benchmarking Survey.

Looking forward to the next 25 years of the AMA, in AMAculturehive’s first podcast —  Six Degrees Podcast — Carol Jones asks Cath Hume, AMA’s CEO,  what key challenges are facing the sector and how the AMA will help meet those challenges. And with the AMA’s new role as a Sector Support Organisation (SSO) AMAculturehive launched an ongoing series of interviews with SSO’s working right across the sector.

Check out all the #AMA25 stories. 

Audiences: to leave or to remain

What is it about?

leadership / collaboration / socio-political context

If great leadership is connected to arts programmes and audiences, then why is the synergy between these three elements often broken by policies and the socio-political context? And who gets left behind?

Using Harpreet’s leadership insights into how arts professionals evolve over their career, this provocation will explore how audiences develop their tastes and evolve, and the distinction between the two. Can the arts, heritage and cultural sector keep up with changes in tech, sustainability and social policy?

From Kala Sangam in Bradford to Shrewesbury Folk Festival, Harpreet will share how arts leaders and audiences are collaborating to respond to the rise of extreme political views and exploring ways to adapt and diversify programming.

View more information on Inclusivity and Audiences Day 2019 and book your place.

Speaker

Harpreet Kaur | Harpreet Kaur Creative

Harpreet works within a cultural and international development context to facilitate social and global change. She has a portfolio career as a researcher, consultant, facilitator, and arts manager that focusses on embedding cultural practice into key areas including diversity, gender equality and climate change, locally and globally. Harpreet has worked with arts organizations, NGOs, charities, artists and policymakers from different cultures from all corners of the globe. A cosmopolitan globe trotter, Harpreet has mastered remote working and adapting to different environments and contexts rapidly. In the last five years, her focus has been on researching artists exploring climate change through a diversity lens. Her research and work has taken her around the globe with funding from Arts Council England, British Council and Creative Europe.

Harpreet is a former Powerbrokers International Leadership Programme Fellow (Cultural Leadership Programme 2008). She has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and Australia as an arts manager on projects, events and festivals since her career began in 2001. Clients include Southbank Centre (London), Beijing Modern Dance Company (China) Mindspace (Budapest), Regional Arts Victoria (Melbourne) and Jagriti Yatra (Mumbai). She is an Artistic Quality Assessor for Arts Council England and has recently consulted for the national heritage, outdoor arts and community climate action sectors. Harpreet achieved an MSc in Gender and International Relations in 2014 and is an advocate for cultural diplomacy.

In 2014 Harpreet was awarded an International Anita Roddick Award by the Body Shop Foundation for her voluntary work, particularly with Initiatives of Change, a world-wide movement focused on trust and peace building. In 2017 Harpreet was selected as a BBC Expert Woman and has appeared on numerous media channels including BBC World News to share her expertise in Culture and Development. She is an experienced speaker on air and at international conferences about culture, security and development presenting for global audiences in numerous cities including London, Paris, Kiev, Vienna, Bucharest, Berlin and Melbourne.

Image courtesy of Harpreet Kaur (c) Marcin Sz

Discovering the wonders in communities

Mercedes Kemp from WildWorks shares her thoughts on the issues raised by the latest JAM — the AMA’s journal of arts marketing — which focuses on community engagement. 

Reading the latest issue of JAM I am heartened by the serious approach to ‘community engagement’ represented in each of the articles. I sense the concerns of the writers, that community engagement might have become a surface approach, a superficial relationship that is useful in obtaining funding but fails to produce meaning or legacy. The importance of an ethical, inclusive approach is evident throughout.

Imrana Mahmood is passionate in her valuing the cultural currency of communities deemed “hard to reach” and the importance of artistic ambition. This is something I have encountered time and again in my twenty years as a socially engaged arts practitioner. She highlights how: “active listening (is) paramount to creating work that (is) resonant and it was also an effective mechanism in building long-term relationships.”

The importance of an ethical, inclusive approach is evident throughout.

I think it is also key to establishing trust and discovering the wonders in communities. And there are wonders. I worked on a CPP project in Sunderland some years ago. WildWorks ‘A Great Night Out’ aimed to give a platform to the voices and talents of a community that had undertaken massive changes in the past 30 years or so. For a year we travelled regularly to Sunderland, made connections, attended local gigs and events, engaged artists and musicians, both professional and amateur and, above all, we listened to the people who wanted to be heard: ex miners, ship builders, women’s support groups, football fans, youth groups.

A temporary community was created that worked in a spirit of mutual generosity to create an event, effectively to make a strong statement of collective pride. The importance of strong partnerships is key to the strength of the work and its legacy. It was important for our work in Sunderland that the local team that was coordinating Creative People and Places would take up the baton after the event and continue to support the people who had participated on ‘A Great Night Out’, so the capacity that had been built through the event would continue to grow. The arts do indeed continue to thrive in this location.

I admire National Theatre Wales’s (NTW) approach to co-creation and the way they place communities at the creative centre of the work. I was Community Director in ‘The Passion of Port Talbot’, the final production in NTWs inaugural year. ‘The Passion’ a three-day non-stop event that involved over one thousand local participants and an audience of 22,000 would not have been possible without the fierce commitment, support and ambition of NTW, led at the time by John McGrath. We really felt as if we were at the beginning of something. Now, eight years on, it is wonderful to read how the TEAM model of participation has strengthened and developed mechanisms to enable communities to participate in every stage of the creation process, including: “leadership, creative activism, intensive engagement and peer learning.”

It reminds us that it is our duty to keep learning from each other as well as from the communities we partner.

This issue of JAM acts as a catalyst for artists working with socially engaged practices. It outlines potential pitfalls and highlights best practice. It reminds us that it is our duty to keep learning from each other as well as from the communities we partner.

Photograph of Mercedes KempMercedes is a WildWorks founding artist with specialty in community and research, and is a senior lecturer in Fine Art at Falmouth University.

Read the latest issue of JAM on community engagement. You will need your member login to access.

Audience interaction through social media #DigiLab

In this #DigiLab blog Charlotte Angharad from Metro-Boulot-Dodo (MBD) talks about her third experiment to develop Instagram Stories and the impact the Digital Lab has had on the organisation’s approach to social media.

Our third Digital Lab experiment was originally going to be based on community interaction through our website related to a project that we’re doing to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landing. Unfortunately, the project has been delayed until October so although we still plan to undertake this experiment, we needed a new experiment for Digital Lab.

So instead, our third #DigiLab experiment is an Instagram one. Although I lead on MBD’s social media I don’t know much about Instagram or Instagram Stories — as a result we’ve just been posting on Instagram rather than developing stories.

We have at the moment a fantastic intern, Silvia Campanile, who knows a lot about Instagram. Silvia is a design graduate from Naples who’s working at MBD for four months as part of the Erasmus Programme, which is a European work placement programme. Silvia is working on some of our VR projects, as well as on design and 3D animation. She’s also been helping us with our social media, in particular Instagram.

Silvia has started to develop MBD’s Instagram Stories — she’s been posting content and developing interaction with followers. Our experiment is evaluating that work.

Silvia’s made a real difference to our Instagram and we’ve seen an increase in followers. It’s also made a difference to how we view our audiences. We originally started 22 years ago as a touring theatre company so our audiences were in the room with us when we were performing. We could see audience reactions to our work; hear their clapping and experience a real-life interaction.

However, these days we do a lot more work online and using Virtual Reality (VR). We do work that’s site specific, for example audio heritage trails in historic properties. As a result, we’re not always there when our work is happening so we’re not seeing the reaction of our audiences and we’re not talking as much to our audiences. We miss that interaction.

So the work that Silvia’s doing with our Instagram Stories is creating more interaction. Throughout the working day people will ask questions through Instagram about the work that we’re doing. They’ll ask questions such as: what’s a difficult day in the office? Or, what we’re working on next week? It gives us an opportunity to directly interact with our audiences and that’s a really good resource that we’ve previously not tapped into.

It’s changed the way all of us in the team are thinking. It’s made us more aware of our audiences on a day-to-day basis.

Silvia is also imparting her knowledge of Instagram to the rest of the team and training us up to the level that she’s at. So that when she leaves we’ll be able to carry on the stories.

As a result of the Digital Lab programme, we’re now developing ‘tone of voice’ guidelines for our social media platforms so that we can have a consistent organisational voice across all our channels. We’re also defining which platform we want to use for which type of content — so that we know what type of post we want to put on each platform. #DigiLab has opened our eyes to how best to use our social media channels and how we can implement that across the whole organisation.

Read Charlotte’s previous Digital Lab blogs: Paid social media advertising #DigiLab  and Digital Advent Calendar #DigiLab.

Images courtesy of Metro-Boulot-Dodo ©.

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