So I’m on the train back from the AMA Conference after a really useful few days with some space to think, ponder and consider both organisational and personal direction. As always please tweet me @MrFreeman1984 with any thoughts or opinions you might have. Here’s my day #2 notes from Newcastle.

Sabbaticals
I loved Dan Bates’ talk about his three month sabbatical in Asia visiting theatres and arts centres. I was particularly inspired by the idea of life long learning and the desire to discover how other people do things. I suspect that many of us can be relatively insulate, often whispering words of condemnation about how “other people do it”. There’s an open mindedness that feels incredibly useful – being able to learn and (buzzword) grow by sinking into unfamiliar cultures and practices.

Data and Learning
There was plenty of chatter on day 2 about data. What particularly struck me was about how we must look at fact and not add too much of our own narrative. I was also struck by the cult of segmentation (of which I am part). On the one hand it seems that some organisations have hundreds of tiny segments looking into motivations, frequencies, artforms etc… while others have none. I suspect the right amount is in the middle – at a level which is financially and workload(able) achieveable and where we use facts (and not conjecture) to construct segments.

Geeks in One Place
It was good to have a few break catch ups with a few fellow data geeks exploring the possibilities that self-created data analysis platforms can offer. Particularly inspiring was the layering of census data, and also target and income monthly averages! I have much work to do to get my data projects up to standard!

Creativity
There was much talk about creativity not being the sole domain of the artist. It was brilliant to have it pointed out that artists are no more creative and have no more right to creativity than anyone else. It made me think about why our community isn’t more at the heart of our creative and curatorial conversations from inception of a year.

A Great Night Out
Top night out on the Wednesday evening. It was a lovely social, chilled out feel. It was fun chatting to people from (amongst others) the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre, the legends of York Theatre Royal, Brighton Dome, Liverpool Everyman and many many more. It’s exciting to be at a place where everyone had exciting stories both of their work but also the pride they have in what they do (and also, on occasion on how they kicked fake penguins in their youth). Also a special shout out to those who ended up with me and Crayg in the weird bar at 2am with the guitarist playing Britney Spears covers. Hideously brilliant.

Conference Overall & Improvements
So, in conclusion… Well I think the conference was one of the best AMAs I’ve been to – there have been big structural changes that have pushed the networking and kept the sessions short ‘n’ sharp, which means it has a power and pace that is impressive. What would I look at? I think there’s real scope for more technical workshops, the “how to” or “idiots guide to” sessions – particularly around pacing, remarketing, adwords, data and analytics – I’d also love to see more experience based platforms (like Dan & Jo’s) – the main keynotes are for out-of-sector inspiration, the breakouts are more practical – also, maybe a career path session – for people to chat and ask experienced hands about how they ended up where they are and what they learnt on the way. Overall though the AMA team should (IMHO) be very proud.