This year’s conference had the theme ‘The Value of Everything’. An intriguing title, the conference team put a great selection of speakers and sessions together that really brought this theme to life. I’ve returned from this year’s AMA full of ideas, feeling empowered and brave. Here are four points that really stood out for me at this years conference.
Think big (really big), then small
Brad Carlin (MD at Fusebox) got us thinking really big in his session. We discussed ideas from sacking everyone and restructuring to dropping out of NPO funding and scrapping the website. Ideas verging on the ridiculous. But then, just as we’d recovered from these revelations, he got us to discuss the 15% we could each do, on our own, to achieve these ideas and suddenly the ridiculous became the practical.
Brad’s session really highlighted the power of breaking down huge ideas into manageable chunks. It also got us thinking about the part we play in organisational change and how we can influence it.
Be Brave, Make Mistakes and Move On
Amy Lame (Television & Radio Presenter / Activist / Performer & Writer Night Czar) and Rob Martin (Freelance Marketeer / Photographer / Director) both discussed the power of being vulnerable, making mistakes and moving on.
Rob discussed the importance of taking on work you care about and being honest and brave enough to stand up when things aren’t right. From calling someone out in a meeting to blaming a CEO for the marketing teams failings in previous contracts, he’s found that honesty has earned him respect, and more work (an important part of freelancing!).
Amy shared her learnings from the one star review show they did and how she’s taken on feedback and used criticisms to empower her, not put her down. Her inspiring closing keynote highlighted the importance of forever trying and never giving up.
“Find out about the audience you’re trying to reach, before you try to reach them”
This phrase turned into a bit of a mantra during Nikki Locke’s session on East Durham Creates’ projects. In an area with no arts venues and what have traditionally been hard to reach audiences, Nikki and her team are doing great work, but they’ve learnt that they need to know their audience before trying to reach them to get the biggest impact from their projects.
Amanda Dalton, Director of Engagement from the Royal Exchange, talked about a similar concept and introduced the Royal Exchange’s Audience Manifesto. Through creative consultation with audiences, including sleepovers in the the theatre and sound installations, the team have captured what audiences want from the theatre. The manifesto is simple, direct and will no doubt be a resource that informs all areas of the Royal Exchange going forwards.
True loyalty means people will get a tattoo of your brand!
As a self confessed science geek, I found Ron Evans’ (Consumer Psychologist and Principal Consultant at Group Of Minds) session on the Psychology of Loyalty fascinating.
We might think our customers are loyal, but would they get a tattoo of your theatre? I expect there are a lot of Harley Davidson, Football team and band tattoos out there. This is the kind of loyalty we need to strive for in the arts, the kind that sits in the heart, not the wallet.
Ron gave us some great takeaways focusing on going that extra mile to thank customers (a phone call or personal note) and removing barriers to loyalty (toilet queues and unhelpful staff).
So did I found out what the value of everything is?
From the value of the the little things we can all do, to the value of making big mistakes and moving on, my learnings from the conference were on the value of everything, except tickets! The three days were a great way to focus on things that don’t have a monetary value, but increase engagement, loyalty and understanding in the arts.
As someone who works with a lot of arts organisations, I’ve also come back looking at the value of everything I offer to our clients and the arts sector. I have more confidence in that value now and more confidence in taking risks along the way.
Big thanks to the whole AMA team for another great conference. I’m already looking forward to seeing you all in Liverpool next year!