“Deep, deep gratitude to the city of Detroit, the radical organizers, educators, healers, artists and media makers who stretched my mind and heart this past weekend – what a profound space for anti-oppression, self-knowledge, self-discovery, self-determination. Grateful for the space to mourn, to dance, to speak truth, to be unapologetically ourselves, to be seen, to be brave, to decolonize the shit out of our histories, to reimagine technology as a tool towards liberation, to wage fierce love. And above all, to listen.”
– Schuyler Swenson, AMC2016 Participant
This year we celebrated 10 years of the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. After a decade of building and growing together, the evolution of the AMC continued in 2016 with many firsts. We shifted our conference base to the newly renovated Wayne State Student Center, relocated the Opening Ceremony to accommodate more people at the Detroit Film Theater, hosted the first ever Women in Hip Hop conference, held more AMC @ Night events than ever before, and welcomed first timers through “Homeroom” orientation sessions held in the first session block each day of the conference. Throughout the more than 300 sessions of the conference we explored the many dimensions of media-based organizing that allow us to create, connect and transform together.
Thank you for sharing your responses to the AMC2016 Feedback Survey which we launched immediately following the close of the conference. We have now combed through the 168 survey responses that we received, as well as read your comment cards from the conference and hosted a series of debrief conversations with AMC staff, coordinators and community partners. Through these various forms of evaluation, we have identified important lessons and takeaways that will help us improve the conference as we look towards AMC2017.
What we learned
Taking the AMC Home With Us
AMC sessions range in content, experience level and media-based organizing frameworks. Survey respondents mentioned that the best and most impactful sessions at AMC2016 demonstrated how to directly apply the ideas from that session into participants’ lives and work. At AMC2017, we will encourage more of this by asking presenters to focus on offering concrete and practical “takeaways” that attendees can apply after the AMC.
Sessions for All Experience Levels
AMC attendees asked for sessions that were more advanced. You requested a specific indication of the “experience level” in session descriptions. At AMC2017, we look forward to recruiting content across the spectrum of expertise, and clearly articulating the experience level of sessions in our online session schedule.
We demystify by doing. While you appreciated discussions of the frameworks, theories and organizing practices of media-based organizing, you wanted more experience of actual creation of media and experimentation with tools. We hear your call for more hands-on mediamaking sessions. In 2017, look for more AMC sessions that provide opportunities to learn how to make media and that practice skills through hands-on learning.
Cancel the Cancellations!
As the AMC grows and includes more presenters, coordinators and participants, we are learning (pretty much at the same time as you) that our margin of error also grows. This year, we had a surprising number of session cancellations and presenter no-shows and it impacted many of our participants. Looking ahead to AMC2017, we will work to better present the most up-to-date session information in our online schedule and printed materials. We also plan to connect presenters and coordinators earlier in the year, offset more presenter costs to make attendance even more accessible, and move up our conference production timeline so we can give presenters plenty of time to confirm their sessions and let us know about any changes and shifts well in advance.
Creating Space for Elders
The AMC is home to a lot of youth content and organizing, but at its core it is a truly intergenerational space. In the survey, you asked AMC to create more space for elders and for intergenerational engagement. In AMC2017 look for more spaces that centralize and uplift the the work of elders in sessions, mealtime meetups, and nighttime events.
Every year Detroit’s leadership and engagement grows at the AMC. In your feedback, you demonstrated great interest in understanding the city more thoroughly through tours, off-site events and field trips. AMC2017 will more actively incorporate ongoing organizing initiatives happening in the city throughout the weekend, giving participants an opportunity to meaningfully engage in Detroit’s media-based organizing and activist work.
An AMC @ Night Encore
AMC @ Night is where all the fun happens after workshops end. From theatrical performances to ice cream socials to our annual Saturday music showcase at MOCAD, we are continually adding nighttime events that speak to our growing network. This year we got great feedback about the youth party, the opening night mixer at Marble Bar, and new events like the cabaret performance at Cinema Detroit and the Juneteenth event at the Baltimore Gallery. We also heard that we need more events that are less bar-centric events and more children friendly things happening in the evenings. In AMC2017, we will continue to build an inclusive, family-friendly, and even more diverse AMC @ Night event line-up.
More Changes for AMC2017
Here are some other changes we hope to implement for AMC2017, based on your feedback:
- More wayfinding signage – especially in new buildings and spaces
- More outdoor activities like mural making, service trips, and play areas for kids
- More diverse offsite tour options
- More clear indications of changes to the conference schedule
We are excited to begin organizing for AMC2017 with all of these important takeaways in mind. We look forward to a next AMC full of active media production, exploration of big ideas alongside nuanced conversation, and sharing innovative strategies for organizing and engaging our communities.
Between now and next June there are many ways you can get involved in bringing AMC2017 to life. The first opportunity will come in September, when we open the call for Tracks, Practice Spaces, and Network Gatherings. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.