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Reverse Mentoring: My Antidote to becoming a Grumpy Old Man #AMAconf

It’s 25 years since the first AMA Conference. I didn’t go (too busy having babies and promoting festivals) but as an AMA Member I received the conference report and still have it today.

A lot has changed in the last quarter of a century in our industry. One of the professional highlights for me in 1994 was procuring my first Box Office System. For a small arts organisation, this was revolutionary. We could trap customer data at point of sale and start building profiles of who was attending our events. We could identify our most loyal bookers and encourage them to become members or donors. In 2019 this may sound pedestrian, but in 1994 it was magic. Just like the fax machine.

I think it must have been the following year that I first became acquainted with the ‘World Wide Web’. I signed up for an email account and bought a URL. Before long we had a website. It had almost as much information on it as you could find in the brochure and told you the number to ring to book tickets. I’m not sure if anyone actually visited it (yes, there was a time before Google Analytics), but even then, we knew this was the future.

In 2019 my takeaway concept from the Conference was ‘Reverse Mentoring’. This is the notion of oldies like me be patiently guided and supported by the next generation of innovators who are far better placed to spot emerging trends in technology and society. We needed this concept in 1994. We need it even more today. If a digital native would like to volunteer to invest some time and effort in furthering the tech education of someone who hasn’t meaningfully engaged in gaming since the launch of Space Invaders, it would be much appreciated.

I’m hoping that some ‘Reverse Mentoring’ will slow my progress into becoming a ‘Grumpy Old Man’. Sadly, I’m already showing symptoms. I had a lovely time in Gateshead, but there were many moments of déjà vu where I was haunted by the content of conversations and conferences past. Here are three lessons I thought we’d all already learnt:

  1. Learn from the successes (and mistakes) of the past. It’s wonderful that so much knowledge and good practice is collected in knowledge banks like CultureHive. It would be even more wonderful if arts marketers spent some time researching what has or hasn’t worked in the past before re-inventing the (square) wheel as a ‘ground-breaking audience development initiative’. A quick search on ‘young audiences’ could save a huge amount of time and effort and increase your impact exponentially.
  2. Good data and resource management is essential. If I reflect honestly, the 25-year old me was probably far more interested in tracking down a talented ‘Web Master’ than focusing on the bread and butter of effective marketing, but there were basic notions that we knew were important then and seem to have forgotten today. For example, good data collection rates (in both performing and visual arts) and clean, well-managed databases. Tracking spend wherever possible to be able to demonstrate ROI. Segmenting communications to ensure you’re effectively engaging with a range of different audiences. Managing communications so you’re not overwhelming the same customers with a million messages.
  3. It’s all about relationships. It may feel like we’re so busy that all we can do is focus on the next show, but this is a treadmill that leads nowhere. It’s crucial to understanding at what stage of the relationship you are currently in with individual customers and then engage with them appropriately. One-size-fits-all approaches rarely fit anyone.

Of course, some individuals and arts organisations are getting these basics right. But from my experience it is far from universal. And it’s not all about size and relative resource: there’s good and bad practice at all scales. Northern Stage’s story at the conference about how they have transformed the resilience of their business by putting increasing customer loyalty front and centre of their strategy was a lesson for all organisations, from the biggest to the smallest.

The next 25 years will undoubtedly provide huge challenges for AMA Members. I hope I’ll be able to join you at the carbon-neutral conference in 2044 where we’re all be celebrating the continued growth and increased diversity in audiences for the arts and a more resilient and reflective sector. We’ll only get there by getting the basics right and learning from the past as well as embracing the new.

David Brownlee, Director of International Strategy
TRG Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRG Arts — Loyalty Sponsors, AMA conference 2019

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

 

 

 

 

Sebastian CaterSebastian Cater| Freelance Consultant

 

 

 

 

image of sarah hornerSarah Horner | Head of Marketing & Communications | BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales 

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.

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. 

Change of details?

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