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We asked you if “Collaboration and partnerships have been key to help retaining your audiences since reopening”

Ahead of AMA Conference 2021, and its theme of ‘Change for Good’, we wanted to know how people felt about whether collaboration and partnerships had contributed to audience retention since organisations reopened after lockdown.

We posed the statement on Facebook, Twitter and on our website. The view was overwhelmingly positive with 93% in agreement and only 7% in disagreement.

So what does this tell us?

For a sector that values community, the eagerness for cooperation and relationship building during trying times is perhaps unsurprising but it is reassuring to see overwhelming agreement of the importance of working together. Comments cited the need to find brand new and different ways of working which required “collaborating to find a way through” the challenges of the last 18 months. It’s shown that although there’s been an awful lot of adversity for our sector, new connections have been built and existing relationships strengthened.

This brings to mind a recent story from the arts, culture and heritage sector that transformed what was originally a testing situation into one of hope. Financial difficulties due to the pandemic required Creative Arts East to leave their Wymondham office premises. They’ve since been offered office space at The National Centre for Writing in Norwich, who have been one of their close collaborators on a number of projects. This gesture helped assist with a practicality, but also has the additional layer of adding to an already thriving creative hub with potential for closer working ties on audience-facing projects.

For some, these relationships have provided essential support during a difficult time with Katie Parry from Supercool commenting that “Collaboration not only helps us to reach better solutions – often quicker – than working in isolation. It also helps us to feel more connected. More supported. More human. And that’s more important than ever during a time of crisis.”

This highlights the importance of teamwork during a time where it can be easy to work solo or in silos during a pressurized situation. This isolation has been compounded by a lot of teams working remotely, or where they have been depleted by furlough or redundancies. The end result can be a sense of isolation, but it’s important to turn to your peer networks to provide the community and support this can bring. This has been particularly key for Richard Jones from Venue Cymru who stated, “It’s been useful to link up with our arts pro’s to see how they are engaging with audiences…(and) been good to find time and chat with other attractions and hospitality providers to see how we can work together to up the offer for audiences, packages”.

Joining up with other organisations locally including hospitality, and the inter-connection between arts & culture and tourism that this brings has been vitally important during the first summer after reopening for many organisations. ‘Head East’ is a campaign that has seen both Norfolk and Suffolk  County Councils come together with Visit East of England, New Anglia LEP Culture Board and the University of East Anglia to work together on a joined-up marketing campaign to showcase the cultural offer in the East of England and encourage visitors to return on their ‘staycations’ and in-turn boost audiences for arts and heritage. By working together, this creates one overarching message and creates a compelling ‘shop window’ for visitors who are able to the full breadth of the offer in one place.

Here at the AMA, we’ve been keen to ensure our growing community can stay in touch. During the first lockdown, we started a Community Support Facebook Group which has grown into a friendly and supportive space for anyone with marketing, communications and audience development responsibilities in the arts, and heritage sector to ask questions, get advice and seek recommendations. This has also helped build new relationships and connections. Coming up at AMA Conference 2021, we’ll be providing plenty of group and speed networking opportunities so attendees can meet others from across the sector and exchange ideas. These relationships with other professionals in the sector can provide valuable connections with people in similar roles who understand your challenges and a neutral presence detached from the daily rigor of our own organisations.

We’re also grateful to our Conference sponsors who have shared resources to support and highlight partnership and collaborations:

Join us at AMA Conference 2021
You can also find out more about AMA Conference 2021 and how you can join us as a delegate here.