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Our Favourite Moments from the AMA Conference 2016

The Spektrix team just got back from a hectic week in Edinburgh after attending the 2016 AMA Conference and what a week it’s been! As we wade through our mountain of neglected emails and recover from our #Ginterval antics on Wednesday night, we thought it would be a good time to gather some thoughts about our favourite moments of this year’s conference. And here they are…


“Money follows vision, never the other way around” - Sarah Gee (Indigo)

Fundraising needs to start within your organisation with support from every department including your board and box office. At the mac Birmingham, the development team started their appeal by asking every member of their board to make a donation. This meant they were armed with a number of backers for the campaign before going out and approaching donors, asking them to join a journey that had already begun. Two of the board members were students with no cash to spare but they managed to pay the lowest level between them in monthly instalments. This act really brought the board together in support of the cause and encouraged other more wealthy members to donate generously.

“New buildings don’t always mean that new people are going to give a sh*t” - Medani Younis (Chief Executive - Bush Theatre)

In his refreshingly honest talk, Medani talking about how gaining support for a capital campaign needs a clear well-articulated message as your shiney new building won’t catch people’s attention on it’s own. The Bush Theatre went public with their capital campaign once they’d raised 90% of their funds (£4 million) and only spoke of the £400,00 they now needed to raise. With this way of thinking, the theatre’s capital campaign had so much momentum that they managed to surpass their fundraising targets.

“Changes in population, immigration and migration has a direct impact on building cultural participation.” - Donna Walker-Kuhne (New Jersey Performing Arts Center)

Do our audiences look like the people in our communities or are we limited ourselves to small segments with our programming? With this in mind, she suggested that artists also share the responsibility of cultivating diverse audiences by programming with these people in mind. She also pointed out that diversity isn’t just about race, but also about things like geography and perhaps most importantly, class. Donna urged us all to take a leap of faith and make a serious investment into diversifying audiences, as a casual gesture just isn’t enough.

Give audiences an outlet to project themselves how they want - Meabh Quoirin (Future Foundation)

Preparing us all for the future, Meabh explored how our leisure lives are changing and how that impacts our relationships with cultural organisations. Meabh introduced the concept of ‘performative perfection’ and that business need to be aware of the fact that there is a difference between who consumers really are, and who they project themselves as being. For example, sales of lycra and sports wear may be increasing but that doesn’t actually mean that more people in general are exercising (as shown in this hilarious video). Does your marketing really provide an outlet for people to project how they want to be perceived while engaging with your brand?

“Talking to young people is you building your future audiences.” - Sharna Jackson (Consultant)

Knowing who you’re talking to is a huge part of content creation no matter what age your target audience is, but it’s even more important for children. Ask yourselves how old they are, what do they care about and what else do they watch? If you know what their expectations are of content in general, it’ll be much easier for you to find inspiration and get your branding and voice right. It’s also about knowing yourself - your brand and your values - inside out. Making sure you align your content with your brand makes your life a lot simpler when it comes to things like sign-off from senior team members. Lastly, a couple of top tips:

  • Know what you’re trying to communicate and where your communication is best placed.
  • You won’t find a six-year-old on Facebook so rather than pumping time and money into your social media strategy, communicate with their parents and include content that they can share with their children.
  • Remember to create content for kids two years older than your target audience age - the minute they think something is ‘made for kids’ you’ll lose them!

Repurpose political tactics for the arts - Rachel Grossman (dog and pony dc)

In her session, Rachel Grossman encouraged us to “Eff-Up the Pop-Up” and we did just that. We had to repurpose a political tactic (our tactic was “creative disruption”) and use it to come up with tactics to rethink the way we ask audiences to interact with the arts. Our group decided that we should let audiences comment on art as it happens on social media and make it part of the work, invite them to move props around on stage and get audiences to decide programming. Check out the pdf ‘Beautiful Trouble’ for more ideas from political activists that might inspire your marketing tactics.