Are you an AMA member? please login

Young, dumb and broke #ADA

One strong belief holds about working in the arts and cultural sector holds, that is that one does it for love and not the recompense.  Here, English Touring Opera Fellow of the ADA 3.0 shares their plans for a more equitable ticketing scheme which could go out nationally.

It is the 16th day of the month and I am broke. To be honest I was running low on funds by the 4th of the month. Once I’ve paid the rent, bills, travel costs, food… I find that I have pennies to make it through to the next pay day. This makes it extremely difficult to buy tickets to shows or exhibitions. When I was in my early 20s I was able to utilise the 16-26 ticket schemes and was able to watch shows for a fraction of the price. However, I had a rude awakening on my 27th birthday when I instantly became ineligible for these discounted tickets. I checked my bank account and there definitely wasn’t an extra zero at the end of the balance. I don’t know why we assume that 27 is the age when people will start being able to afford full price tickets. There have been countless times, since my 27th birthday, when I have foregone a night at the theatre because I know that will be a week’s worth of food. I am by no means poor, and it would be selfish of me to claim otherwise, but I am like thousands of arts professionals living off lower incomes. I knew I wouldn’t be making six figures whilst working in the arts but I assumed I would at least be able to afford to enjoy the occasional exhibition/play/opera.

It seems silly that I work in the arts but I can’t afford to enjoy it and I know I’m not the only one in this situation. How many cleaners get to sit and enjoy a play in the auditorium they clean? How many Box Office Assistants get to watch the shows that they are selling tickets for? How many assistants book tickets for their bosses but never get to book tickets for themselves? Interns barely get paid expenses so tickets are often out of the questions.

That’s where SAS comes in. I have created the “Starving Artist Scheme” to address this issue. We all know we rarely sell out for every performance/exhibition/concert. There are always tickets left in the second or third price band and midweek shows always have empty seats. My idea is to offer anyone who works for an arts organisation affordable/free tickets (from comps up to £5) to any arts event in the country. This would mean that anyone, regardless of their income, will be able to enjoy the arts. Yes, there are tickets schemes already available but they are very exclusive, rarely include big productions/exhibitions or are never offered to the people who would really benefit from them.

My hope is that all NPO organisations will sign up to this scheme and allocate a portion of tickets to their events to people who will truly appreciate it.

Sponsor a story

The AMA turns 25 this year! We’ll be celebrating with 25 stories to celebrate the past, present and future of the cultural sector.

We’re excited to celebrate our 25th birthday with our members and those working across the cultural sector. Over the coming year (until July 2019) we’ll be creating and producing 25 stories to highlight where the AMA has come from, what’s happening in the sector now and what the future of culture might look like.

These stories will be in a variety of formats. Some will take the form of training resources to support those working within the cultural sector in roles such as ticketing, fundraising, marketing and leadership. We anticipate that these stories and resources will be shared widely across the sector.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of our birthday stories, please get in touch with Fiona to find out more.



Image courtesy of Creative Foundation © Lou Johnson Photography — Normal? Festival of the Brain 2016, The Happiness

Shared Ambition — new cohort announced

After a successful pilot, the AMA are now running the impactful Shared Ambition — fundraising and marketing together programme for a second time.

This change programme, managed by the AMA as part of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme, explores how fundraisers and marketers can collaborate to better achieve their organisation’s objectives. It looks at why fundraisers and marketers benefit from working together, how this can be improved across the cultural sector and what impact it can have on individuals and organisations.

Rose Cashman-Pugsley and Emma Evans from the Eden Project took part in the pilot programme:

“Shared Ambition gave us some much-needed time to reflect on our progress working together and make a plan for the future. This led to the development of a business case which made a clear, compelling proposition for expanding our work together and building further capacity in the membership team.”

Debbie Richards from Baker Richards, a trainer on the programme said:

“There is a lot of agreement between fundraisers and marketers about the benefits of collaboration. Whether it’s creating a joint, customer-centric approach to communications or working collectively to maximise income, marketers and fundraisers believe that together they can make a bigger impact on helping an organisation achieve its vision. In practice, though, there seem to be many barriers — departments working in silos, targets that set departments up to compete, a lack of joined up systems, a lack of time or resistance to change…These challenges, and more, make ‘joining up’ difficult. The Shared Ambition programme is all about helping people to make that change and foster greater collaboration between fundraising and marketing. And with organisations placing ever-increasing emphasis on earned income it’s never been more important.”

Selected organisations

The 11 organisations that have been selected to take part represent a variety of art forms and are located in various regions across England.


Julie Aldridge from Julie Aldridge Consulting, also a trainer on the programme said:

“The organisations taking part in Shared Ambition have a diverse mix of aspirations for the programme. For some it’s about becoming more ‘philanthropy-driven’, for some it’s about becoming more ‘audience or people-focused’, some are considering how they embed entrepreneurial thinking to enable new income streams, and others have clear, practical goals such as launching a specific joint initiative or project. Shared Ambition helps teams explore what approach might have the biggest impact in line with their vision and purpose. It provides tools and discussions to help them explore how marketing and fundraising might best work together to meet their joint objectives and to think through what might need to change — practice, processes, internal culture, habits, communication, strategies etc. — to bring these ambitions to life.”

David Johnson, Head of Programme at Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, said:

“Facilitating ideas, creativity and good dialogue between marketing and fundraising teams is key to developing successful income generation activities for cultural organisations. We are pleased to see a diverse range of organisations ready to step up to the challenge of integrating their communication and fundraising strategies over the coming year.”

Participating organisations will be asked to share their stories to help inform and inspire others across the cultural sector. This will include the projects and experiments that come out of the Shared Ambition programme and will be shared via the AMACultureHive website, as blog posts and case studies.


Top image courtesy of Cryptic © Louise Mather

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. 


What was AMA conference 2018 really like?

As part of AMA conference 2018, the AMA and Arts Council Wales gave out almost 30 bursaries, to ensure that a wide selection of professionals could have the opportunity to attend.

Now everyone has had a chance to take in all they have learnt and get back to the daily grindstone, our lucky bursary recipients have written some blog posts, so you can discover what an AMA conference is really like, from the delegate’s perspective.

You can read the individual blog posts by clicking through our gallery below:

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

Top Tips for Working with Freelancers

From briefing thoroughly to clear communication, our Freelancer AMA members give some advice for culture organisations working with freelancers.

Alis Templeton
“Working with a new freelancer is a bit like working with a new member of staff – they will do their best work when they really understand the organisation. Take the time to brief them thoroughly and to explain how your place works, including all its little quirks and foibles (ok, maybe not all). Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it takes a while for someone new or from outside of the organisati
on to pick up all the knowledge and nuance that you’re familiar with.”

Christina Lister
“In my experience there is a point in a client/freelancer relationship where you’ve built mutual trust and familiarity, and you communicate openly and honestly, but the freelancer still retains independence and impartiality as an outsider. It’s a fine balance, but strive for that point – that’s where the magic happens.”

Sam Scott Wood
“Decide whether you’re looking for a freelancer (someone who’s independent, but essentially working as part of your team), or a consultant (someone coming in to provide an external perspective or expertise on an area of work). Lots of us will happily do both, but it’ll help set expectations within the organisation and for the freelancer if you’re clear about what you want from the relationship.”

Nadine Ishani
“You need to be honest about what skills are missing in a team to get the most out of a freelancer and make sure you’re making the best use of the people available to you. For example, a lot of arts 
organisations don’t have advanced digital expertise in-house. Bringing in a freelancer to run a project gets you the skills you need to deliver a great piece of work. It also allows you to take advantage of a fresh pair of eyes and reduces the impact of internal politics on the effective delivery of a project. ”
Read more

Jonny Tull 
“The biggest driver in my career has been maintaining empathy with audiences.  Placing yourself in the shoes of your customers is the starting point for any venue in my belief.  Whilst having had a successful career as a curator of content for audiences, I was able to achieve that success because of my role in marketing, and through it effectively being able to maintain a balance between culture and commerce which worked for the bottom line and for the nourishment of audiences’ needs.”
Read more

You can meet more of our Freelancer AMA members here and find details about AMA membership here.

Part 2 of our Top Tips continues… 

The AMA Gallery — Powered by Play

This year’s AMA conference — The Power of Play is all about unleashing your creativity, embracing risk and experimenting, ultimately achieving improved results for your organisation.

As part of the AMA conference campaign, we wanted our branding to reflect the creativity of our team and members, so we have created The AMA Gallery.

At Copywriting Day in March, we tasked our members to have fun with some art supplies, creating an image that could be utilised within the AMA conference branding. The delegates that took part couldn’t quite imagine how their improvised doodles could fit within a professionally designed brand, but I think you’ll agree, the results are remarkable!


“There’s nothing more (creatively) liberating than being able to stop thinking consciously and let your body play” — Phoebe Hopwood, The Marlowe Theatre


The AMA team also had fun experimenting in the office, trying their skills on both wood board and paper:


We will be showing off this fantastic artwork on Twitter, and if you want to join in the fun, adding your own artwork to our gallery, follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Unleash your creativity
  2. Take a picture of your work
  3. Send it to by Monday 2 July

We can’t wait to see what you will come up with.

AMA Conference 2018 — The Power of Play

24 — 26 July | ACC, Liverpool

Parser Error

Server Error in '/' Application.

Parser Error

Description: An error occurred during the parsing of a resource required to service this request. Please review the following specific parse error details and modify your source file appropriately.

Parser Error Message: Could not find a part of the path 'H:\hshome\rbadesign\\eTarget\functions\userid.aspx'.

Source Error:

Line 15: <!--#include file="/functions/modules.aspx" -->
Line 16: <!--#include file="functions/login/checkmember.aspx" -->
Line 17: <!--#include file="/eTarget/functions/userid.aspx" -->
Line 18: <!--#include file="functions/header.aspx" -->
Line 19: <!--#include file="functions/jobs.aspx" -->

Source File: /page.aspx    Line: 17

Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:4.0.30319; ASP.NET Version:4.7.3282.0

Change of details?

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