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14th August 2018 Jemma Green

My AMA conference 2018 Experience — Stephen Phillips


Stephen Phillips, Marketing and Communications Officer, Artes Mundi.

I’d only been to Liverpool once in a fleeting visit to catch a ferry to Ireland but could tell it was quite a punchy and dynamic city. So it was the perfect location for what turned out to be a really punchy and dynamic conference (and let’s face it, these aren’t words people often use to describe conferences).

The keynote speeches were rousing and varied and the sessions and seminars carefully and thoughtfully programmed. Two particular highlights for me were being able to hear members of Museum Detox speak about their work in decolonising the museum and heritage sector and Alice Procter’s keynote speech on her Uncomfortable Art Tours. Artes Mundi’s shortlist for the biennial exhibition and prize is by its very nature diverse given the international scope of the organisation, but these talks and sessions got me really thinking about how we can creatively connect with communities who might not feel welcome in a museum or see themselves represented in contemporary art. Museum Detox’s session opened up so much discussion it could have gone on much longer than the hour slot and they should be thanked for carrying the weight of this discussion.

The conference theme of ‘The Power of Play’ infused many of the discussions and sessions I attended with a sort of sense of curiosity and confidence, and left me feeling much more comfortable with taking some risks and trying out a few new ideas.

Oh and in the interest of being playful: to the delegate I fell into while trying to sidle down a packed row of chairs as I was late to a session, I’m sorry!

My AMA conference 2018 Top Three

— A renewed sense of vision for campaigns

— Reassurance from Building the Basics seminar

— A great opportunity to network with peers, especially those not in the visual art sector