This evaluation IS PREPARED BY SARAH BOILING ASSOCIATES AND OFFERS AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT OF THIS WAY UP 17
This Way Up is the UK’s film exhibition innovation conference. Organised by Film Hubs Scotland, North West Central and North, and part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, This Way Up 2017 was held at Hull Truck Theatre in Hull on 7 and 8 November 2017. This Way Up 2017 attracted 218 attenders including delegates and speakers, and the programme included keynote talks, panel discussions, presentations and one to one surgery sessions, along with a VR demo, vintage cinema bus, and private view of the Turner Prize.
The objectives of the evaluation were to provide the organisers with information about who came to the conference; how they heard about it; their conference experience and expectations, compared to the previous conference in 2016; the positioning of the event in the sector; and the perception of conference partners. The data that follows is primarily based on a post conference e-survey along with conference registration data and semi-structured interviews with partners.
- Delegate profile was broadly the same in 2017 as 2016. The conference attracts delegates from a wide range of organisations, and they are predominantly working in marketing, programming and leadership.
- The majority of delegates are Female, and more than half of delegates are aged 30-44. In terms of ethnicity and gender This Way Up delegates are more diverse than the film exhibition sector as a whole. One in twenty delegates consider themselves to have a disability and the majority of delegates identify as heterosexual.
- The conference attracted delegates from across the Hub network; one in three were from the Film Hub North area; one in five delegates from Scotland, and the remaining 50% from the other Hubs.
- The most effective information sources for delegates are the fact they attended the previous conference in 2016, the network of Film Hubs, and positive word of mouth. Compared to 2016, Twitter increased from zero mentions to one in eight.
- The top three motivations for attending the conference were broadly the same as in 2016 – To keep up with sector issues, To hear about new ideas and To meet new people
- For the majority of delegates the conference met their expectations, for one in four delegates, it exceeded their expectations and for one in seven it did not meet their expectations, this is a similar pattern to 2016
- The conference is most useful for delegates as an opportunity to network with existing colleagues, make new connections and keep up with sector issues, with no significant change from 2016.
- The most highly rated conference sessions were How can we make our cinemas D/deaf friendly, Impacts, Campaigns and Data, and Jenny Sealey’s keynote.
- The One to One sessions and the complementary aspects of the conference – Vintage Cinema Bus, Unrest VR and Turner Prize private view were all highly rated by delegates.
- Delegates consider This Way Up has had a considerable positive impact on the sector, primarily in terms of:
o Providing a sense of collective identity – “ it unites a sector which is quite disconnected by ethos and by geography, it’s a statement that there is a regional exhibition sector with a specific agenda”
o As an opportunity to connect with colleagues
o A platform for sharing practice and collaborative learning o Providing a ‘state of the nation’ moment
- On a personal level the conference has had most impact in terms of Networking and connections, Learning, sharing ideas and developing practice, Opportunity for review and reflection, Confidence building and positive reinforcement of the value of their work
- The three words most used to describe the conference are challenging, inspiring and friendly.
- Delegates considered the best things about the conference to have been the keynotes and networking.
- Areas for improvement are primarily around the format of the conference, with a desire for more small group, practical, workshop style sessions. Quality of some of the presentations, scheduling, and more structured networking were also noted as areas for improvement.
- Conference administration and booking process and the venue were both highly rated; catering was the lowest rated practical aspect of the event.
- Delegates willingness to pay closely matches the existing pricing bands, and over 70% consider the conference to be good or very good value for money. They are also very likely to recommend the conference.
- Partners are very positive about their relationship with the conference; they consider they have achieved their objectives; they are very satisfied with their profile, benefits and reach; and are enthusiastic about continuing to work with the This Way Up team in the future.
Conclusions and recommendations
- This Way Up conference provides a unique and highly rated platform for independent exhibitors to galvanise as a coherent group, make and build connections, and develop their practice in a warm, engaging, and provocative environment.
- Three stimulating and engaging conferences have created high expectations amongst delegates, who are looking for a combination of inspirational and challenging thought leadership with practical and transferable approaches they can use in their organisations.
- The most successful sessions at This Way Up 2017 demonstrated this – a call to arms from Jenny Sealey around the visibility of D/deaf and disabled people in the cultural sector, along with practical sessions focused on using data and making venues D/deaf friendly.
- Going forward it will be important for the conference to: keep innovating in terms of conference format, attract the highest quality speakers, pay attention to ‘hygiene factors’ such as the quality of catering, consider how to make delegate networking even more effective