Are you an AMA member? please login

Working in a rural context #AMAconf

As we get closer to conference, we wanted to hear more from our AMA conference speakers.

In this blog post, Justine Wheatley, Chief Executive at Peak answers the question:

What are the particular challenges of being an organisation based in a rural context?

Peak is a Welsh arts organisation based in the Black Mountains, that works with professional artists and communities, responding to the rural environment.

Peak’s office and studio is set in Brecon Beacons National Park, in the South-East corner of Powys, a county that covers a quarter of Wales and is the most sparsely populated in England and Wales. It is a striking landscape of upland moor cut with intensively farmed river valleys bordering on the Welsh Valleys.

It’s a privilege and pleasure to work in an environment when a lunchtime walk might take us out on the mountainside, amongst sheep and wild ponies.  However, the artists that we work with are seeking to challenge perceptions of rural environments – built and natural – and explore them as places where people live and work, and not just places to look at and visit.

Poverty in rural settings may be experienced differently to urban contexts. A study by Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that it costs on average 20% more to live in rural settings because of high prices and poor access to services, and this impacts the artists as well as the young people we work with. For example, car ownership is a necessity rather than a luxury, and some will take the risk of running a vehicle untaxed and uninsured, rather than lose the sole means of travel to shops, work and schools. (For more reading on rural Welsh poverty see https://www.wcpp.org.uk/commentary/rural-poverty-the-case-of-powys/)

These factors exacerbate out-migration of young people aged 16-35 from rural counties, of which Powys has the highest level in Wales. Research by the Social Mobility Commission, demonstrating that English rural communities have the lowest social mobility rates, resonates strongly with the Welsh experience.

Peak focuses on offering opportunities to young people. The daily challenges they face include social isolation, low aspiration, lack of access to services such as public transport, mental health support, leisure and libraries, as well as unreliable broadband and mobile connectivity. As post-16 education faces cuts and amalgamations of services, many students are forced to travel to alternative centres for ‘minority’ subjects – including the arts. Opportunities for higher education are limited.

Peak is supporting young people to overcome these challenges, working collaboratively with leading artists in Wales as well as in partnership with education, housing, health and environmental organisations, we want to realise and unlock their potential, help them connect with like-minded peers, nurture mental health and wellbeing and gain confidence to create positive change and a sense of belonging in their communities.

Traditional industries that once were inextricably linked with their communities have been in decline for decades, meaning a new approach to living and working rurally is required. Peak uses digital media as a tool, offering skills development for sustainable careers in the cultural and creative industries (one of the fastest growing sectors in Wales) and access to the wider world for many young people living in our rural communities.

In August 2018, Peak took project Illumine and its Horsebox Studio to Green Man Festival, which takes place on the banks of the Usk, about a mile from our offices. We fielded a team of eight young arts professionals – freelance writers, film-making, artists, designers and our own young team of arts managers. We feel like we’re making that positive change and at the start of something exciting.

“Working with artists on Illumine has made me realise that a career in the arts is a plan, not an idealistic path.” – L, 17.

Peak – Art in the Black Mountains is a registered art charity and a member of Art Council Wales, Arts Portfolio Wales


Justine and Rachel Dunlop from Peak will be delivering the session Reaching Rural Communities on the Thursday afternoon of this year’s AMA conference.

For further information about this year’s event, please visit the AMA conference 2019 home page.

Owning your Potential — mentoring for progress

Mentoring / Working Relationships / Communication

What is it about?

Are you an experienced or emerging manager looking to get the best from the people you lead – and fulfil your own potential? Being a mentor can give you skills to approach team situations differently, build better working relationships, communicate more effectively, and establish expectations and boundaries constructively.

In this session you will hear from existing AMA mentors who have learned to apply these skills to shape their management style, to achieve even more impact in their roles and with their teams, and lessons you can take away to apply in your own roles, as well as a brief introduction to the key things to consider when beginning the process of becoming a mentor.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speakers

 

Amy Firth | Head of Marketing — Membership | AMA

 

 

 

 

Bea Udeh | Programme Producer | AMA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rethinking your Social Media

Data / Social Media / Platforms

What is it about?

It’s easy for social media to become something you just churn out, unable to put too much time and thought into what you’re posting and why. Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut? Join us in this session where Chris Unitt will show you ways to reinvigorate your approach. Using data from across the sector, Chris will explore how to make the best use of the platforms you’re using, the content you’re sharing, and the conversations you’re having.

What will I gain?

— Advice for deciding where to focus your social media attention

— Insights into the type of content you should be posting

— Tips for leveraging your partnerships for more social power

Who is it for?

This session is for those delegates responsible for choosing social media platforms for their organisations. It’s also for those who manage social media accounts and content.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speaker

Chris Unitt | Founder | One Further

Chris is the founder of One Further, a digital analytics and user research consultancy. He works with cultural organisations that want to gain a better understanding of their online audiences and how best to serve them. Current clients include the Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, and Shakespeare’s Globe. 

Chris is also responsible for the mostly-weekly Cultural Digital newsletter, which rounds up recent developments on the digital side of the cultural sector, and he sits on the board of the Hackney Empire.

 

The Big Debate

What is it about?

At the AMA conference 2019, we want you to have the opportunity to debate.  

This is your chance to get involved and have a say on some of the most important issues impacting the cultural sector today. Join the conversation, air your views, hear thoughts from our panel members and ask the big questions. 

How it works 

On the Wednesday, The Big Debate will run in two 45 minute sessions. You can come to both or either, the choice is yours – each session will have a different topic and there will be a short break in between. You will have the opportunity to put your questions to the panel in advance, and during the debate too. 


The Big Debate — What’s our role in these polarised times? 
1.45pm – 2.30pm 

In a year when our society seems to be fracturing further than ever before, what is our role? Do we have a duty to take a stance or should we act as impartial mirrors to society? 

In the first of The Big Debate sessions we welcome questions such as those on divisive politics and its impact on our organisations, the ethics of funding and sponsorship, organisation’s responsibility and communicating brand values. 

Panelists

Alan Lane | Artistic Director | Slung Low

Cath Hume | CEO | AMA

Alia Ullah | Media & Marketing Officer | Manchester Museum

Simon Dancey | CEO | Creative and Cultural Skills


The Big Debate — Are we really still talking about this? 
2.45pm – 3.30pm

When we talk about ‘diversity’ it’s difficult not to feel the eye rolls. But look around you — unless you see a microcosm of society reflected in your organisation and on your stage, then don’t we have a responsibility to keep on talking about it?  

With some quarters maintaining that the arts and culture sector is a meritocracy, how do we make sure our organisations are genuinely inclusive? And how do we break through defensive or apologetic reactions and move to action? 

This will be a frank conversation amongst peers, taking a look at where we are and where we want to be. 

Panelists

Rinkoo Barpaga | Theatre-maker, Film Maker & Comedian

Bea Udeh | Programme Producer | AMA

Simon Dancey | CEO | Creative and Cultural Skills


View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

The strongest brands in our sector #AMAconf

As we get closer to conference, we wanted to hear more from our AMA conference speakers.

In this blog post, Eleanor Appleby, Head of Visitor Communications at Tate answers the question:

Which cultural organisations do you think have the strongest brands and why? 

I think the National Theatre, the Whitworth in Manchester and MoMA in New York are all examples of organisations with strong brands. And when I say brand I don’t mean their logo or visual identity — I mean the perception they create about themselves in the minds of everyone who encounters them.

They have created this strong perception by being very clear about who they are and what they stand for, and manifesting it consistently in everything they do — from their programmes to their environments to their catering to their staff. They do it in direct ways such as through public statements: MoMA’s Google results snippet says ‘MoMA is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration’. They do it through attention to detail:  the Whitworth has beautiful temporary signs which visually link to the gallery’s textiles collection and the idea of ‘gallery in a park’. And they do it indirectly through their internal ethos and practices: the National Theatre wants everyone who visits to feel really welcome so they have a great staff training programme for their front of house teams.

All of these practices mean as an audience member I’ll have a strong sense of what I’m going to get from them — and I’ll be confident that they will always deliver on that promise. They make me want to connect with them, recommend them, and keep visiting them, as well as buying, donating and participating. All great organisational benefits of a strong and compelling brand.


Eleanor will be holding the session How Brand Strategy is Key to Organisational Success (but its got to come from within) on the Thursday afternoon of conference.

For further information on this year’s event, please visit the AMA conference 2019 home page.

Rethinking your Social Media

Social Media / Data / Platforms

What is it about?

It’s easy for social media to become something you just churn out, unable to put too much time and thought into what you’re posting and why. Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut? Join us in this session where Chris will show you ways to reinvigorate your approach.

Using data from across the sector, Chris will explore how to make the best use of the platforms you’re using, the content you’re sharing, and the conversations you’re having.

What will I gain?

— Advice for deciding where to focus your social media attention

— Insights into the type of content you should be posting

— Tips for leveraging your partnerships for more social power

Who is it for?

This session is for those delegates responsible for choosing social media platforms for their organisations. It’s also for those who manage social media accounts and content.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speaker

Chris Unitt | Founder | One Further

Chris is the founder of One Further, a digital analytics and user research consultancy. He works with cultural organisations that want to gain a better understanding of their online audiences and how best to serve them. Current clients include the Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, and Shakespeare’s Globe. 

Chris is also responsible for the mostly-weekly Cultural Digital newsletter, which rounds up recent developments on the digital side of the cultural sector, and he sits on the board of the Hackney Empire.

 

Mindfulness Manifestos: how to develop your own — and how to encourage your organisation to do the same

Mindfullness Manifesto / Wellbeing

What is it about?

There’s much talk of workplace wellness at present, but how many organisations are just well-meaning — and how many are fully embracing well-being?

Drawing on his own experience as Marketing Director at Sadler’s Wells, Sebastian Cater will propose some ideas for creating your own Mindfulness Manifesto, with some simple ways of improving your wellbeing and productivity at work.

He’ll also be discussing how to change organisational culture and open the minds of the leaders in your organisations, so they embrace a more mindful way of working, ultimately creating a healthier, happy workforce.

This will be a positive environment in which to share ideas, test approaches, and explore better ways of doing your job. Come with an open mind, and be prepared to listen, share and emerge buzzing with smart new ways of working!

Who is it for?

The session will be informal. It will be aimed at anybody at any career level or stage who is interested in mental health – their own and their team’s.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speaker

Sebastian Cater | Consultant

Sebastian Cater has over 18 years of experience in the commercial and not-for-profit cultural sector, and was most recently Director of Marketing and Sales at Sadler’s Wells. During his time there he updated their membership scheme, resulting in record-breaking subscriptions and a UK Theatre Award nomination, and he developed a CRM strategy which increased customer retention and advance bookings. His work with Red&White Studio on the Sadler’s Wells visual identity received a DBA Design Effectiveness Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Director of Dance Consortium, and is an advocate for improving mental health and wellbeing in business

 

 

10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Mental-Health — starting the conversation about wellbeing in the arts

Mental Health / Wellbeing

What is it about?

Talking about mental health can be difficult. If you’ve ever been concerned about the wellbeing of someone but haven’t spoken to them 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 help.

Creative Freedom hosts an interactive, myth-busting conversation about creating mentally healthy arts organisations and how supporting the well-being of those around you can contribute to your own mental health.We’ll be exploring how a focus on wellbeing provides an environment in which everyone can thrive.

What will I gain?

— Pointers to help you start the conversation about mental health and wellbeing inside and outside your workplace

— A greater understanding of how thinking positively about wellbeing can make a difference to work

— You’ll start thinking about mental health in new ways

Who is it for?

We all have mental health – so our session is for anyone with an interest in exploring this topic and its context in the arts – regardless of job role.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speakers

Colin Beesting & Chris Lewis | Founders | Creative Freedom

Colin and Chris founded Creative Freedom after recognising the need for a more open conversation about mental health in the cultural and creative sectors.   

Colin has worked in arts organisations for many years, was formerly a director at Arts Council England and headed up marketing at the BFI. He now also works in the NHS, overseeing communications, engagement and change management programmes.  Chris is a choral singer,  performer, coach and advocate.  She also brings the unique insight built through working as a Detective Inspector in the police force! Together they are mental health advocates and trainers. 


This session is sponsored by Creative Freedom

Creative Freedom is one of the only organisations in the UK offering mental health and well-being training and support, targeted specifically at the creative and cultural sectors, led by those with direct experience of working in the sector.   Our work gives organisations the skills and knowledge to make a practical difference.   We deliver whole-organisation training as well as training days where individuals can join a small group of peers to learn together. 

One-to-One — Lisa Baxter, The Experience Business

Visitor experience / Bespoke advice

What is it about?

You will have the opportunity to sit down with Lisa and troubleshoot a particular visitor experience challenge you may be facing.

What will I gain?

— Bespoke advice and guidance

— Insights into your organisation’s experience offer

— Understanding of how you can approach your challenge

Who is it for?

Those of you who would love 30 minutes one-to-one time to chat about an audience experience challenge, opportunity or aspiration. Those of you who believe its important but feel stuck. Those of you who think it’s a great idea but don’t know how or where to start.

View more information on AMA conference 2019 and book your place.

Speaker

Lisa Baxter | Founder & Director | The Experience Business

Lisa Baxter FRSA is the founder/director of The Experience Business, working nationally and internationally in supporting the design of optimal audience experiences.

A pioneer in her field, and an avowed audience champion, Lisa uses innovative facilitative and qualitative research methods to help arts organisations conceive, articulate, design and understand their experiential value propositions. She is increasingly in demand as a speaker on the subject of audience experience design, including keynotes at the Australia Council for the Arts Marketing Summit (2013), the City Cape Town Arts and Cultural Indaba (2015) and the Federation of Scottish Theatres (2017) and the up and coming Connected Audiences Conference in Vienna. Lisa has also guest lectured at the Universities of Leeds, Groningen (Netherlands) and Deakin University, (Melbourne).

A specialist in researching audience and customer experience, she has collaborated with the University of Sheffield on an AHRC/ACE funded programme around innovative methods of enquiry into the audience experience and is published on the subject.

Clients include the National Football Museum (Manchester), the Swiss Science Centre (Zurich), Rockhampton Art Gallery (Queensland, Australia), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), Imperial War Museum North (Salford) and the National Coal Mining Museum for England (Wakefield).

A whistle-stop guide to NewcastleGateshead #AMAconf

The AMA team love conference but this year, Senior Marketing Officer — Events Jemma Green is particularly excited as she counts Northumberland as her second home. Jemma says:

Brightly coloured beach huts can be found along the prom on Blyth beach.

My mum comes from a small town on the Northumbrian coast called Blyth. Every school holiday we would travel up the A1 and spend our time exploring the county. As I got older these trips included regular visits to the ‘Toon to take in its shopping, sites and culture and I can’t wait to help show the city off to our AMA conference 2019 delegates. There’s definitely more to Newcastle than Geordie Shore.

To my family, I will always be ‘the southern cousin’, so I thought I would put together a short guide for all the other ‘southerners’ (and those north of the wall) travelling to NewcastleGateshead for conference.

 

The words

Geordie isn’t just an accent, it’s a language. Whilst slang goes in and out of fashion, there are some words that you will always hear:

  • Wye Aye — Yes
  • Howay — Come along
  • Aal reet — Ok
  • Canny — Very good
  • Bonny lad/lass — Informal term of endearment
  • Blather — Talk nonsense
  • Cadge — beg e.g. “can I cadge a lift?”
  • Mint — Great, excellent etc.
  • Mortal — Drunk
  • Pet — Term of endearment

 

The food

A pack of 2 Stotty Cakes, freshly bought from Greggs.

There are some things I’ve only ever tasted in the North East, and every time we visit the family I have to go to Greggs (which was founded in Newcastle) to pick up some stotty cake (I actually moan about it on the way home if I haven’t managed to pick any up):

  • Stotty cake — a flat, round loaf of bread.
  • Monkey’s blood — raspberry sauce for your ’99 from the ice cream van.
  • Pace eggs — a real treat at Easter, the eggs are hard boiled in onion skins to give them a dark red-brown colour. Sounds awful but tastes delicious!
  • Ham and pease pudding — one of my mum’s favourites growing up. Pease pudding is made from yellow split peas and has a soft paste-like consistency.
  • Broth — a soup consisting of meat or vegetables cooked in stock, sometimes thickened with barley or other cereals. This is something my Aunty makes for us every Christmas Eve.

 

Eating/drinking out

There are plenty of places to eat out in Newcastle. The Quayside is famous for providing a great night out and there are loads of bars on the Gateshead side of the Tyne.

I asked my cousin for her top picks of where to eat and drink, and she suggested:

  • Scrumpy Willow and Singing Kettle — a vegetarian café on Clayton Street
  • Super Natural — a vegan bar and café on Grainger Street
  • Dala Café — a Swedish café on the Quayside. Does good vegetarian/vegan alternatives
  • Bridge Tavern — a pub on Akenside Hill that does a great selection of real ales
  • The Botanist — a bar and eatery near the Monument, that does a great selection of cocktails

 

What to do

There are some great cultural venues in NewcastleGateshead. The Sage Gateshead is home to large-scale concerts and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead. The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has some fabulous exhibitions and there’s a nice restaurant on the sixth floor. There’s also a viewing gallery, which offers stunning views across the Tyne.

The Sage Gateshead is also home to AMA conference 2019 and this year’s Spektrix Ginterval. The BALTIC will be playing home to the AMA conference 2019 First Night Social, which is sponsored by Art Fund, so you might just have time to look around these fantastic cultural venues, throughout conference.

There are plenty of other things to see and do in the ‘Toon. From shopping to sports, you’ll want to extend your trip to take it all in:

  • Elden Square — the main shopping centre in the city, it has recently been done up to include restaurants
  • The Metro Centre — a short hop into Gateshead on the Metro will take you to what was once the biggest shopping centre in England. It’s so big, it used to have its own funfair and roller-coaster
  • St. James’ Park — home to Newcastle United, you can take a tour of the stadium
  • Mog on the Tyne — a cat café in the city centre, you have to book to avoid disappointment. There is also a pop-up daschund café that visits the city but sadly not in July.

 

What to see

The Angel of the North welcoming us up to the North East.

There are some fantastic monuments and architectural features across NewcastleGateshead, including:

  • Angel of the North — one of the most famous sculptures in England, she welcomes everyone travelling on the A1 to the North East.
  • Tyne Bridge — opened in 1928, the bridge links Newcastle and Gateshead and is a welcome site as you are pulling into Newcastle from the south by train.
  • Grey’s Monument — this Grade I listed monument to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey built in 1838, can be found in Newcastle city centre
  • Blacksmith’s Needle — a sculpture found on Newcastle’s Quayside.

 

The view of Blyth beach, heading toward Whitley Bay and Tynemouth

Further afield

If you have time to do an extended trip, it’s worth getting out of the city and exploring the best that Northumberland has to offer. My top picks include:

  • Tynemouth — home of the Boxing Day North Sea dip, this beautiful little seaside town has some lovely shops and one of the nicest coastal walks in the North East.
  • Alnwick Castle and Gardens — known to Harry Potter fans as Hogwarts, you can very easily spend a day perusing its history and horticulture
  • Woodhorn Museum — all the men in my family used to work down the pits, so I have vivid memories of this mining museum in Ashington, including an exhibition on the Charlton brothers, who came from the area.
  • Hadrian’s Wall — stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, you can still see the remains of this piece of history at various sites across Northumberland.

So there you have it, my whistle-stop guide to NewcastleGateshead. I’m so proud that we are visiting these fantastic cities for AMA conference 2019 and I can’t wait to see you all there.


For full details on AMA conference 2019 or to book your place, please see the conference home page.

All images © Jemma Green

Change of details?

If you would like to change your contact details or organisation please get in contact with us.