AMA conference 2018

Jack’s highlights and top-tips from the Arts Marketing Association’s 2018 conference, titled ‘The Power of Play’, held in Liverpool.


Last week I spent three days with over 600 other communications professionals at the Arts Marketing Association’s annual conference, held in Liverpool this year.

This year’s theme was ‘The Power of Play’ and, as you might expect, it was quite a playful conference. Of course there were lots of useful breakout sessions with case studies from organisations across the country, with many parts of the conference kept coming back to the idea of involving play in our work and environments.

Some of my highlights were:

  • Deborah Williams, CEO of Creative Diversity Network, who performed the role of an old, white male who struggles with the many strands of diversity in society, highlighting that our need to be inclusive is alienating others.
  • Tom Rainsford, Co-founder at GiffGaff, who asked us to hand our mobile phones over to the person on our right and let them look through our photos, showing us how the concept of a mobile phone has evolved over the decades, and giving us the fear of revealing something personal to a stranger.
  • Dominic Wilcox, an artist who told us about a project he’d worked on with his team. Little Inventors is all about engaging children to think creatively and draw a new invention.
  • Tatiana Simonian, Head Of Global Media and Entertainment Partnerships at Tumblr (and general awesome person), who introduced us to the concept of ‘The Flow of Slow’, taking time to appreciate everything we take on as humans and accepting that we’re not always going to be good at everything.

Jack (in a very dark bar) with two of his Member Rep Bingo targets, Will from Jacksons Lane and Frankie from Royal Court, at the opening social event

Of course the conference is never just about the sessions. Meeting new people and spending time with others arts marketing professionals is a big reason to be there. As an area Member Rep, for the AMA, I was given a game of ‘Member Rep Bingo’ – my task was to find and meet some of my fellow AMA members from London. I didn’t manage to find them all (it is a big conference) but I did get to meet and catch up with some new faces.

Jack with Bea from the AMA team

There were so many great ideas and tips from the three days. We gathered and tweeted our favourite tips from the keynotes and breakout sessions during the conference. You can download them all here and print out a sheet for you wall or pinboard (or share your favourites below). Do tweet us @cog_design with great insights we may have missed.

This year was (I think) my ninth year of attending the AMA conference. I always say, particularly to people working within the arts who haven’t been before, it’s such an inspiring, nurturing environment to be in for three days. It’s refreshing to break away from our to-do lists at work. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with friends and ex-colleagues, to meet new people and to share ideas and experiences.

I will completely hold up my hands and say I probably haven’t done anything playful back in the office yet. You’ll need to keep an eye out on our Everyday Cog photos to see how we adopt play at Cog.

Of course, I’m already excited about next year, and planning how to celebrate my first decade of AMA conferences.

Our favourite tips:

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