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Posted in general by Chris Unitt on July 24th, 2011

Notes from the Arts Marketing Association Conference 2011

Last week I attended my first Arts Marketing Association Conference, held this year in Glasgow at the Royal Concert Hall.

A big group of us travelled up from Birmingham, meeting up with other friends from around the country. In the photo below (taken just after breakfast on day one) you’ll spot folks from Birmingham Hippodrome, Dancexchange, The Rep and Artichoke with others from BCMG and The RSC just out of shot.

Join me after the pic for my notes from some of the sessions.

AMA Conference, day one prep

Day One

Jerry Yoshitomi

These days there’s more art and less education about art. That means arts marketers are trying to get audiences to attend things they don’t know much about. In that sense, their job is about mitigating the audience’s risk. Jerry illiustrated the principle with a few case studies:

• Oregon Humanities do a series called Think & Drink
Mostly Mozart – shorter shows, time for a drink
BAN6 at YBCA had an opening party (rather than a reception) which carried on later and featured live music, cocktails and DJs to appeal to a younger demographic

How about giving a credit to people who leave halfway through to allow them to come back and try something else? What about offering a money back guarantee? Maybe try selling sections of the show separately (ie with triple bills of work). The last one caused a bit of a stir in the audience, which was good.

Some other bits and pieces:

• Taste is socially transmitted
• What are you doing to help your audiences talk to each other?
• Audiences can be reached at various stages of an experience: Before -> During -> After -> Omnipresent

Sarah Gee and Kate Sanderson, Indigo

Sarah and Kate’s session was titled ‘Reviewing Your Marketing Campaign Strategy – a marketing health check’ and it was probably the most practical and useful session I attended.

However, rather than regurgitate my notes, they’ve been good enough to make their presentation and a host of other resources available here so I’ll just point you towards that. Check out the resources section of their website for more case studies too.

Mark Robinson, Director, Thinking Practice

Mark has kindly uploaded his slides along with a few notes scribbled during other sessions.

The main thing I took away from his talk was the idea of performing three strategic (as opposed to random) acts of kindness. He acknowledged an element of cynicism in this but I think that’s fine – if doing a good thing also makes sound business/mission sense then there’s all the more reason to do it. From our point of view there are a couple of things we do that would fit snugly into this bracket.

Brave New World
(Photo by craftscotland)

Day Two

The second day was really all about having conversations with people, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of notes from any sessions.

Jane Finnis and Seb Chan expanded on the day’s opening keynote session in an interesting and quite wide-ranging session (with some nice words said about the mobile site we built for Warwick Arts Centre too).

It was also a pleasure to meet and talk with Rohan Gunatillake (Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab), Antony Pickthall (Liverpool Biennial) and Sarah Hunt (National Theatre) who hosted the round table sessions I attended.

Russell Willis Taylor brought things to an end in fine style with a final keynote session that was as drily amusing as it was authoritative and thought-provoking.

To sum up

Congrats to the folks at the AMA for organising a good conference, hello to everyone I met (I’ve got a lot of post-conference following up to do) and thanks to everyone who said nice things about us unprompted. Glasgow was great, too.

If you want some more notes to devour, check out these:

• Morning keynotes livestreamed by Envirodigital – day one and day two
• Notes from the AMA’s guest bloggers
• Choice #amaconf tweets collated by Get AmbITionTuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
• On a related note, see Taras Young – On Virtually Being There
AMA video round table notes from Alex Fleming (I presume) at Lyric Hammersmith
• I understand some notes are due on the Cultural Tweeters blog imminently

One final thought that occurred to me on the train home: all those arts marketers and nobody once tried to sell me a ticket to anything…


Posted in general by Chris Unitt on July 18th, 2011

Notes from the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture event

I was at the mac yesterday for a (deep breath…) Digital Capacity and Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture Digital Day event.

The fund was announced in June by Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the NESTA. £500,000 is available for projects that harness digital technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working. The Arts Council website has the official info.

Yesterday was a chance to hear more from the funders, ask a few questions and meet others who might be interested in applying.

My notes

Richard Russell, Director, Strategic Partnerships at Arts Council England explained that there are three ongoing things:

• The Digital Opportunities Programme, research and evidence from which will be released soon
• A partnership with BBC Academy
• The Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture

These three form the foundations of the Arts Council’s emerging digital vision which currently involves:

• Arts organisations creating imaginative, digital content that can attract audiences. Currently 4% of organisations have created content that is primarily digital and is a destination in its own right – they want to see that number rise
• Generating greater digital capacity, especially in terms of marketing, organisational development, production and distribution
• Attracting investment from other parts of the the tech and media sectors
• Larger, more diverse audience experiences. For example, involving people who have limited physical access to art

We were told that ACE’s strategic funding will particularly look at digital but this vision will apply across their funding programmes.

There was also a mention of the forthcoming digital innovation and development programme. The latest on this is that there will be £20m over four years, covering capacity building, skills, content development and R&D.

Hasan Bakhshi, Director, Creative Industries for Policy and Research at NESTA, was up next. His slides are here:

He explained that this fund was established to plug a perceived gap in funding and stressed that although £500k isn’t a huge amount of money they have big ambitions. They’re looking to fund five to ten projects but haven’t set too many restrictions on applications – they want variety, but they’ll react to the kinds of bids they receive.

They want to fund a range of projects – incremental/radical, big/small, geographically diverse and over a spread of art forms. They’re looking to support knowledge and learning, not particular art forms.

• Collaboration will be an important factor in any applications.
• Arts organisations will lead applications but must have a technology partner
• Partnership is (strongly) encouraged between tech-savvy organisations and those that are further behind on this
• AHRC will team applicants up with research partners

The round-table discussions

After lunch I was asked to chair a discussion around user generated content and social media. With quite a broad topic to address the conversation flowed back and forth nicely, with a few key themes emerging.

Most of the discussion centred on audience engagement and improving the artistic and creative aspects of work. When I asked if anyone around the table was interested in pursuing new business models through social media there was a general consensus that people were interested, but had little idea what that sort of thing might look like.

We discussed proprietary and open source platforms and formats and moved on to talk about how, more often than not, an emphasis is put on the technology and tools available and not so much advice, guidance or training is given on how to engage with and involve online communities (irrespective of the platforms/online spaces they inhabit).

Plenty of fodder for R&D work, then.


• Notes by Jason Hall – overview of themes and ACE Digital R&D Fund
Notes by Rachel Coldicutt
• The hashtag for the event was #digicaparts
Video from the Bristol event
• Slides from presenters at these events around the country are going on ACE’s Slideshare account


Posted in general by Chris Unitt on July 18th, 2011

Digital Days, Tessitura and AMA

conference map

A few of us are getting out and about this week.

Jake and Jeremy have jetted over to Orlando for the Tessitura conference. Not only is Made Media on board as a sponsor, but Jake’s been asked to present there too.

He’ll be presenting something rather special we’ve been developing for our latest Tessitura-using client, Sage Gateshead. It’s impressive stuff, and I can say that because I’ve had nothing to do with it.

So while they’re enjoying Orlando, the rest of us can follow along on the hashtag #TLCC2011. They’d better bring back something nice for us.

Meanwhile, I’m at the MAC today to hear more about the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture that ACE and NESTA have put together. I’ve also been asked to chair a discussion in the afternoon on ‘user generated content and social media’ which sounds like it’ll be right up my street.

Then tomorrow I’m off to Glasgow for the Arts Marketing Association’s annual conference. I’ve not been to one of those before so I’m looking forward to catching some interesting sessions and seeing plenty of friendly faces. If time permits I’ll write up some notes from that and share them here. There’s a hashtag for that one too at #amadigital.

If you’re going to be at any of those then come say hi.


Posted in news by Chris Unitt on July 17th, 2011

Two months in

Ian and I started work Made at the beginning of May, establishing a dedicated social media team here. It’s early days for us yet, but I thought I’d explain a little about what we’ve done here so far to give a feel for the kind of work we do.

Some ongoing work

We brought some work with us – both blog-focussed projects that aim to connect and inform creative communities:

• West Midlands Dance is a valuable resource for the region’s dance sector and is supported by the Arts Council.
• Created in Birmingham is a very popular arts and culture blog locally. Currently run out of the goodness of our hearts, we’re working up some interesting plans to develop the site further.

Some new work

We’ve recently become responsible for the editorial content and some of the social media activity for Dancing for the Games, which is part of the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012. With the Olympics just a little over a year away activity around this programme is about to start ramping up.

Ian oversaw the production of an iPad app that’s been made to accompany a high-profile touring exhibition. The app has only been installed on iPads that are built into the exhibition’s display cases, it’s not on general release. We’ll do a proper write-up of this project at some point.

Ian’s also been busy coordinating a usability test that will inform a website redesign for for one of Made’s existing clients. We had our test subjects in the other day, learnt an awful lot from them and are now compiling a report that will inform ongoing work.

Meanwhile, Birmingham Hippodrome asked me to go to Boston to see Cirque Eloize perform a spectacular show called iD which is coming to the UK later this year. As well as producing some copy about the show I shot a couple of very simple videos, one of which has racked up 450,000 views in just two weeks. Result.

A couple of smaller jobs: The Guardian asked us to write a round-up of Birmingham’s summer arts events and I manned a liveblog for an event held by Birmingham Ormiston Academy.

More generally, we’re just finalising some packages of social media services that we’ll be offering to clients to make sure they have access to the levels of support that they need.

Getting out and about

I was asked to speak to quite a few groups of people:

• a CIPR WM meeting focussed on bloggers and blogging
Using Film in Education, a regional seminar organised by Film: 21st Century Literacy
• some students of Fashion Retail Management at BCU
a group of creative industries entrepreneurs on the Metapod: Be Effective course.

I also attended Open Culture 2011, The Power of Online Video, a social media-themed meeting of the Midlands Federation of Museums and Art Galleries, Transmedia London and Hacks/Hackers.

There was a fantastic turnout at our final Birmingham Social Media Cafe too. We’ve passed the reins for that over to Karen Strunks and we wish her all the very best with it.


We’re just kicking off an amazing new project which, as well as being a significant web development project, has a great deal of social interaction baked into the core mechanism. It’s exactly the kind of project that that I’d hoped we’d get the chance to work on. More to come on this.

Meetings with some thoroughly interesting people and organisations have lead to some equally interesting briefs, with more on the way. Proposals have been sent and we’re hoping for more to announce soon.

Finally, it’s been a long time coming, but the launch of the new Made Media website isn’t too far off now. We’ve been helping to supply some of the copy for the site, including writing lots of lovely case studies.

So that’s what we’ve been doing

If you think we might be able to work with you on something, just let us know.