AMA conference – open up and let them in!

openingdoorThis year was my first AMA conference and as a non arts-marketer I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Being someone who networks a lot in my job, I liked the encouragement to get sussed about who you wanted to meet in advance.   So I arranged some quick hellos and some longer meetings with other delegates in advance and enjoyed making good use of the meeting spaces provided, discussing cpd, community consultation and artist studios in housing associations amongst other topics.

From my perspective the conference messages were delivered incredibly well by some smart and professional speakers.  Diane Ragsdale opened really well, and I loved her assertion that cultural institutions only exist to matter to people right now, Dan Germain at Innocent kept it simple but memorable about creating a well loved brand – the worst thing we could do at Innocent is clam up and get too serious and stop talking to people.  Ed Sanders from Google/You Tube shared the quick way to digital upskilling 1) Find a geek 2) Buy him beer 3) Reap rewards and Dick Penny talked through how his organisation in Bristol, Watershed has made sense of the disruption of changing their organisation by understanding that their work so far has resulted in their role as custodians of a shared cultural space held in shared ownership.  A role that brings them both rights and responsibilities.

There was a massive emphasis on 2 way interaction during the conference and my AMA wordle overall would have to include…

Open  Honest  Trusted  Humble
Listening  Co-created

All principles central to community engagement.

The atmosphere amongst delegates still seemed to show a range of barriers to reaching this ‘open organisation’ nirvana.   When it comes to putting the vision into practice, some messages I took away were:

  • There’s a culture change afoot (and not everyone will like it)
  • Self-awareness includes listening to and not being offended by criticism
  • Not listening will soon be a criminal offence (well as good as…)
  • Willingness to see other viewpoints or wear different shoes will put you ahead of the game
  • Our to do lists should be changing – taking the time to listen and plan your actions in response is the work… it’s not an extra bit.

Some places to look for inspiration

S.L.A.M (referenced by Diane Ragsdale).  They say –

Our space is open to the public.  Come in and watch the process as it unfolds and if you have a great idea let us know.  Bring lunch and use our WiFi!

Watershed’s D’shed (Dick Penney).  They say –

Welcome to dShed, Watershed’s online showcase of digital creativity, it’s a publishing platform for artists, media producers and communities and a space to view, explore, create, learn, discuss and debate.

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