Being Bold And Brave In Brighton


Lucy Jamieson has worked in the arts and culture sector for 20 years. She’s Head of Programme at the Arts Marketing Association (AMA), overseeing the events, training and resources for its 4,000 plus members. 

Lucy’s career has seen her work as Head of Marketing at East London arts centre Rich Mix, and in programming and promoting roles at revered London jazz club the Vortex, the Barbican, National Portrait Gallery, independent promoter The Local, and at Sydney Festival. She’s been a Music Advisor with the British Council, where she worked on projects for the London Olympics, and her career in the cultural sector begun with a job answering customer enquiries at Arts Council England.

Lucy is also a trained coach and plays the drums with instrumental rock band Dog Unit.

Instagram: @lucyjamieson_e17

This year's Arts Marketing Association Conference was held from 3rd - 5th July in Brighton and the Mobius marketing team were in attendance. We will also be following up on Lucy's reflections with a blog from our Marketing Account Manager Beatrice Updegraff about her own experiences at the AMA 2024.

Sitting on the Gatwick Express home to London from Brighton, I’m reflecting on the Arts Marketing Association conference that’s just taken place over two days, where we invited 600 people to come together in person and 150 online under the theme of being Bold and Brave. I’ve been the AMA’s Head of Programme since 2017 and I’ve got to say, I love this part of the job. No two conferences are the same, because our membership shifts and changes, and so does the world we live and work in. But is it just me, or did this conference feel noticeably different?

This yearly event receives a lot of time and attention from our whole organisation and for good reason; it’s the point in the year where we bring the largest number of our members together into one place to listen to experts, and peers, be inspired, reassured, challenged, and go away with ideas, answers... and more questions.

The talks are curated throughout the year by asking our members in lots of different ways about their challenges, what they need the most help with, what they want us to address, and how. We invite them to pitch to speak for themselves too because most of the time the people doing the work, our members, are the real experts. By sharing the What, Why and How of a project, they’re removing the mystery and the obstacles that others might be experiencing.

This year we programmed sessions on practical issues like using data (I Can’t See the Wood for the Trees, with Sam Freeman of Theatr Clwyd), case studies on large-scale marketing strategies (From Reactive to Proactive - Creating a Multi-Year Strategy, with Kate Carter from Edinburgh International Festival), how to use AI in an organisation (AI & Data - What Does it Mean for Sector Leaders? With Jocelyn Burnham).

And then we supported our marketers to thrive in their work life with extraordinary speakers talking about showing up authentically, like dancer, writer and all round wonderful person Rikki Beadle-Blair who helped members access the skills they innately possess, and Nazma Noor (Cog Design) and Simone Kelly (Metal) who unpicked what it means to be a good ally to Global Majority people (and others). Not to mention Wellbeing from the Top, about setting the tone for your people, with leaders including writer and AD Keisha Thompson.

It’s also our job when putting this conference together, to focus on how we do things as much as what we do – so that means addressing things like our working culture, who we’re not reaching, how we communicate, and what this means to our audiences. It’s our job to look ahead and anticipate future trends and challenges, so that we can address the things our members should be planning for. And that’s when (in my opinion) the programme gets particularly interesting and can elicit all kinds of responses, from ‘Wow, that really got me thinking!’ to ‘Wtf?’

So why did the conference feel different this year? Well, there’s the small matter of a general election and a change of government that happened at the very same time. (A genius stroke of planning on our part? Er, no.) But aside from that, I wonder if we’re experiencing a shift from the giddy hyper-energy of our early post-Covid events, where we were all so very excited/anxious about being together in person; towards that ‘new normal’ that was talked about so much, where we’re now just a bit more relaxed, open, and realistic about what we can achieve.

That’s not to downplay the very real pressures, stresses and fears that arts marketers and organisations are experiencing – the theme of being bold and brave responds directly to those stresses and strains. But in coming together to talk about them, the atmosphere was one of warmth, kindness and curiosity. And I think that’s what will stay with me and what we can channel into not just next year’s conference, but all our work.

So once this train gets in and I’m back in London that’s my next job. To start planning, talking to arts marketers and leaders, listening, and trying new things for the AMA Conference 2025.

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