Our Clients - Arts Marketing Associations

Case Study – Arts Marketing Association (AMA)


AMA – Road Map To Utopia

The Arts Marketing Association (AMA) is for people who persuade the public to experience the arts. The AMA has a membership of around 2,000 arts professionals working in marketing, audience development, general management, education, sales, development, programming and curatorship. The visual arts and crafts, museums, performing and combined arts, film, video and literature are all represented.

The Symposium started in 2003 to meet the needs of the AMA’s more senior members (arts professionals with 10 or more years’ professional experience). The Symposium focuses exclusively on ‘big picture’, sector issues. The programme focuses on sector-relevant, strategic issues, and past delegates frequently comment on how pertinent the content is to their current work .The quality of debate and thinking has been described as ‘a shot in the arm’ for senior members. 

The Symposium in 2005 was an opportunity for senior arts professionals to plan collectively for the next twenty years – to agree a blueprint for the future for the arts and audiences. Bringing together marketers, managers, audience development professionals, policy makers, cultural planners, artistic directors and curators, this Symposium combined three aspects:

  • Visioning Utopia: what could the UK arts sector look like for audiences in 2025?
  • Looking Out: what opportunities and challenges might help or hinder this vision?
  • Looking In: using this knowledge, let’s build the road map and make it happen.



SAMI’s Role


  • Part One: Visioning Utopia 
    What could the UK arts sector look like for audiences in 2025? Each of 7 panellists took 3 minutes to describe their Utopia, followed by a Question Time style debate.
  • Part Two: Informing the Road Map 
    Four speakers each made a prediction for 2025 around a particular subject or sphere of interest: Politics, Economics, Social, Technology. They illustrated how other sectors or businesses are responding, or not, to the implications of these opportunities and challenges.
  • Part Three: Building the Road Map 
    This session was led by Gill Ringland, accompanied by Adrian Davies, Collin Fletcher and Oliver Sparrow from SAMI Consulting. Following an introduction, delegates worked in guided groups to develop a framework for the road map to Utopia, using the content of Part One, Part Two, and some outline scenarios. This was an opportunity to do some practical work with other senior arts professionals in a structured workshop setting, with a tangible outcome.
  • Plenary: This session pulled together the work from the workshops of the previous session.


In designing Part Three, we were conscious that people learn by discussing and formulating actions. So group work – with about 8 per group – was indicated. But the participants had been through two sessions of briefings abut the future – how best to provide a framework to fit these ideas into, some hooks to create coherent pictures? We decided to use some scenarios for the UK in 2020-2030, developed for the Department of Trade and Industry, that explored the type of society that might be found depending on the nature of the economy and the nature of society,

We had extended the scenarios to describe the state of the Arts world in each scenario

On the day, each participant was given a pack on entering the theatre for the plenary. This contained containing briefing material on the scenarios and very importantly a unique number, the letter of the syndicate group they were assigned to, what room it was to meet in and the name of the facilitator.

The briefing in plenary covered:

  • A brief introductions to scenario thinking
  • An outline of the Foresight 2001 scenarios
  • A description of how the scenarios might affect the Arts world

    The symposium broke into groups to collect their views on:

  • Desirable and undesirable factors for 2025, using the scenarios as a prompt.
  • Ideas for reaching utopia. These were divided into “blue sky” ideas and “green” ideas – the latter obvious, “why don’t we just go ahead.

Each group was asked to collect their thoughts on 1 flip chart for each topic. After the first hour, the facilitators collected the first pair of flip charts. After the second hour, the second pair were collected. There were 68 desirable aspects of the future, 32 undesirable, 75 “blue” ideas, 84 “green”. The facilitators summarized these into 4 Powerpoint slides which the Chairman used to drive the plenary discussion of priorities, leading to voting for topics and the setting up of 7 task forces.

The facilitators were pleased that in the final plenary discussion it was evident that we had captured the main ideas from the groups, and the Chairman was able to take the session into voting in an orderly manner.

The Outcomes

The participants were tired after three days of conferencing, so it was important to provide them with enough time to refocus their energies and think through the messages they had got from the conference. Ideally, the workshop sessions could have been longer.

By tackling the question of assignment to groups and room almost army style, the groups formed reasonably quickly.

The use of the scenarios for 2020 prompted a number of ideas that would not have been forthcoming without them to provide a context for setting the many inputs from earlier in the symposium.