Rather a last minute decision, but I am heading up to the MA conference on Monday night. I do love the buzz of conference season, the feeling that change is so immediate that you can taste it in the air. The last few years, I haven’t been able to head along because I have had other work on, but this year, I still have work on, but I thought ‘COME ON!!! Where’s your sense of adventure?’
I’ll be hanging out in the exhibition hall – always the best place to gather the gossip and find out how the inevitable to and fro of the sector is working this year. Last time I was at the MA conference, in 2008, it was also in Liverpool, and it was not a good year – all the regional MLAs were being closed down and there was a tired and frantic feeling about the place.
This year, the cuts are still biting and I am almost afraid to ask old friends how their jobs are going, just in case they have. Still, there is a definite lift to the mood. Now that the Arts Council have stepped in as a lead organisation for funding the sector, there is a bit more hope about the place. New museums trusts have been formed over the last 5 years, and the staff who remain are tougher and more resilient. Fortunately, we have a long tradition of trying to get by on very little, which helps (not a lot, but it helps).
So, I am looking forward to meeting old colleagues, forming new relationships and generally sniffing the air. Hope to see some of you there.