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25th April 2019 Amy Firth

Yorkshire Regional Meeting Report

Member Rep Shamima Noor shares her experience of hosting her first AMA Regional Meeting

Shamima Noor photo

When I tell people I’m an arts marketeer, they generally assume that my main responsibility at work is to promote productions and projects with the sole aim of selling tickets. However, I would say

what has been an equally important focus in my career so far has been developing audiences (which is very different from merely increasing ticket sales).

Anyone who was ever worked with me, knows that I am passionate about diversifying audiences and making sure that audiences reflect modern Britain. I think this is heavily influenced from my own experience. I was always very passionate about the arts and loved reading plays, but strangely enough, rarely visited the theatre growing up. I also hail from an area of Leeds where engagement with the arts was, and remains, very low.

I became an AMA regional member rep last autumn, and I knew right away that I wanted my first Regional Meeting to focus on diversity. This meant inviting someone to speak who could provoke an interesting discussion about the arts and diversity. Luckily, my fellow member rep, Hannah Mason, was completely on the same page and suggested we invite Amanda Huxtable. I was delighted at the prospect of hosting Amanda Huxtable, as I’d been familiar with her work at Hull Truck Theatre, where she worked as Artistic Associate as part of the Arts Council’s Change Makers Scheme.

Needless to say, Amanda’s talk was incredible exciting and invigorating. She spoke about her work as a Change Maker, the joys and challenges of working in Hull, and the possibilities that emerged from Hull being awarded UK City of Culture. I was intrigued by her reflection on Hull Truck Theatre’s recent involvement in an international artist exchange programme in which artists from the theatre visited Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2017 and worked alongside three artists from Sierra Leone.

Amanda’s talk prompted comments from AMA members, many of whom asked her questions about her ground-breaking work at Hull Truck Theatre, and spoke candidly about the successes and challenges of their own respective organisations when it came to diversifying audiences.

It was a brilliant day and made me thrilled at the prospect of hosting the next regional AMA meeting. I’m incredibly grateful to Amanda for offering her voice and prompting such vital conversation, but also thankful to my fellow AMA members for attending and offering their unique insights.