Anticipating conference

Maurice Davies, 27.09.2011
Maurice Davies: blog
One thing I’ve learned about the MA annual conference, having worked on a few myself, is that every individual delegate has their own distinct experience depending on what they go to, who they speak to – and of course their own preoccupations and interests.

But often conference has an overall mood – zeitgeist, even. Uncertainty about where things are going will have a big influence.

As cuts bite, some people may privately be down in the dumps but I think publicly most will be full of ambition for the longer term.

In the bar museum directors might complain about the government, but when they’re on stage most will want to show their peers how hard-nosed and business-like they are, with impressive tales of restructuring and new income streams (and lots of use of the words ‘focus’, ‘strategy’ and ‘assets’).

So, I think the set-piece bits of conference will be positive and energy levels will be high. It’ll take late night networking and afternoon chats on the seafront to find out what people really think.

But how will culture minister Ed Vaizey be received this year?

Last year he did his ‘amiable, gently cultured, on-your-side’ act – but  will people fall for that this year?

His buffoonish public-school manner has elements of Boris Johnson – but Vaizey can come across as diffident and without Boris’s cunning intelligence.

I think people may be getting a little tired of the lack of direction and apparent lack of determination to achieve anything much at all.

For more about the impact of museum cuts, click here

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