Can you tell us more about the recent Arts Marketing Association’s annual conference?
AMA conference 2016 was the Arts Marketing Association’s annual conference, bringing together over 600 arts professionals to learn, share, and inspire. The theme of this year’s event was ‘On a Mission to Matter’, and focused on how you can keep your organisation relevant to your audiences and visitors. This theme was explored over two days of programmed content, via keynote and breakout sessions. Networking was also a key part of the conference, with social events and other networking opportunities playing a big part.
Who were the delegates attending the conference?
We had over 600 people at the conference, who were a mix of arts marketers, arts fundraisers, CEOs and directors of arts organisations, freelance arts consultants, and more. The majority of the delegates were also AMA members.
What were the key requirements when selecting Edinburgh as the host destination?
The AMA annual conference has many different requirements, but putting aside the multitude of operational elements that need just the right venues to work, we also look for a city that’s truly vibrant and full of inspiration and culture. Our delegates come from an incredibly diverse range of organisations and freelance companies, but all are interested in arts, audiences, and engagement, so finding a city with the right pull for our delegates is key, and Edinburgh was an obvious choice in the selection process for this.
How did you find Edinburgh as a destination for your conference?
Edinburgh really delivered as a destination for our conference. Such a great variety of interesting venues and organisations contributed to the event that it made the time in the city really special. We had our first night social at Dynamic Earth, exploring their underground exhibitions; a second social event split between the fabulously atmospheric Caves and a scattering of great restaurants close-by; curated exhibition talks at Dovecot Studios; underground and city tours by the magical storytelling company Mercat; I could go on and on. There was so much choice in the city for the conference, and it made both the planning and the event really enjoyable. I think that some of our delegates just wished Edinburgh was a little bit closer to them! But who could blame them?
Were there any unforeseen challenges in the run up or during the conference?
One of our main challenges is always finding relevant arts organisations that have venues large enough for our conference. Convention Edinburgh were able to assist with this, and were absolutely brilliant in their assistance of our event. It was great having dedicated contacts for each element of the planning, and the support given with the online accommodation booking service for our delegates, through to the agile way they managed our constantly changing plans with helping us source new venues and suppliers for last-minute new ideas, was outstanding.
What were your thoughts on combining the use of the Festival Theatre and Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) for your conference?
The AMA prefer to support arts venues through our events, but as our conference continues to grow this is becoming increasingly more difficult to find large enough spaces, so using the Festival Theatre and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) jointly solved this problem really well. The sites are close enough to be able to travel between the two during the conference day, and the event staff at the RCSEd were very helpful in planning the logistics of the event and handled all the communication with the Festival Theatre on our behalf too.
Comments from Leonie Postma, Events Manager at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh:
Being an Arts Marketing conference, branding was a key element to the conference. Working together with the marketing department of the theatre and the college there were many branding opportunities that took place, both inside and outside of both venues. For example, the theatre had posters up on the galleries and the college had a large banner out front, really connecting both venues together.
This also helped with one of the key challenges of the venues, the worry of ‘losing’ delegates between venues as they have to cross the road. With the large branding out front and ample signage, it was clear from the outset that the venues were working together on the same conference.
At the very early stages the client was concerned of having two different venue contacts, however, we resolved this by having one point of contact between the venues and that point of contact managing all aspects and liaising with the other venue to tie it all together. Communication between the teams was excellent and the conference ran very smoothly.
Feedback from delegates:
Fantastic conference this year, inspirational and aspirational. Excellent speakers and seminars - well done!
An inspiring and beautiful destination city! I know it sounds silly but being in Edinburgh was really wonderful, it's such a beautiful place to be and I genuinely think it made everyone a bit happier and more relaxed than normal.
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All images supplied by: AMA conference 2016 © AMA