A participant-designed conference
The Allied Media Conference is created each year through the passionate contributions of hundreds of coordinators, presenters, and volunteers. The AMC organizing process has been developed from an iterative cycle of feedback and learning between AMC participants and organizers. Through trial and error, survey and response, the organizing process is a continuous work in progress.
The AMC organizing process is described in detail in the How We Organize the AMC zine.
Tracks, Network Gatherings, Practice Spaces
Through an open proposal process in the early fall, we select the thematic focus areas of the following year’s conference. These focus areas take the form of tracks, practice spaces, or network gatherings (TPSNG for short).
- A track is a series of sessions connected by a shared theme.
- A practice space is a hands-on open studio space dedicated to a creative practice such as dance, screen-printing, or technology-building that spans the four days of the conference.
- A network gathering is a day-long mini-conference convened by a local or national network on the Thursday of the AMC. A Network Gathering is an opportunity to convene a network for focused work and strategy development within the AMC.
Coordinating a TPSNG
Most TPSNG coordinators have previous experience presenting and participating in the Allied Media Conference. Coordinating a TPSNG is an opportunity to take your involvement in the AMC to the next level.
Each TPSNG coordinating team needs a minimum of three coordinators and should have 3 - 5 "supporters" who help out with specific tasks as needed. The work hours needed from each coordinator are variable and may be more like 2 hours per week earlier in the year and closer to 15 or 20 hours in the final weeks leading up to the AMC. The work may include: recruiting participants and session presenters and fundraising to help get them to the AMC, as well as documenting and evaluating your process.
Representatives from each of the selected TPSNG coordination teams come together in Detroit for a planning meeting in January. The meeting lays the foundation for the next six months of AMC organizing. At the coordinators meeting, we develop calls for participation that show how people can participate in each TPSNG. Tracks and Practice Spaces will release a call for session proposals. Network Gatherings set goals and determine if their gathering will be open to the general public or invitation-only. Network Gathering coordinators begin to develop a full day’s worth of activity for their convening and plans to manage attendance and logistics. Each TPSNG creates a fundraising plan that helps ensure the people who most need to be at the conference can make it there.
AMC staff advise on the development of the vision and content of the Tracks, Practice Spaces, and Network Gatherings. We do everything we can to facilitate connections between coordinators, potential participants, and potential funders. The AMC provides some housing and registration scholarships for TPSNG coordinators and session presenters. We additionally provide TPSNG coordinators with "mini-grants" that seed grassroots fundraising efforts to cover the remaining costs of participation in the AMC.
The AMC Organizing Cycle
Between September and November...
- Tracks, practice spaces, and network gatherings (TPSNGs) are proposed, reviewed, and selected.
- TPSNG coordinators decide who will attend the coordinators planning weekend in January, hosted by AMP.
Between December and February...
- Each TPSNG determines the members of their coordinating team.
- TPSNG coordinators gather at the coordinators meeting in January in Detroit.
- Coordinators finalize their TPSNG descriptions, logos and calls for participation.
- Each TPSNG distributes a "Call for Participation" detailing the sessions they are looking for or other ways to get involved in their content area.
- The AMC session proposal process launches.
- Network gathering coordinators determine who will be invited to participate and how many participants may be included.
- Network gathering coordinators work with AMC staff to select facilities to be used, and plan for specific logistics.
- Track and practice space coordinators review session proposals and make recommendations to AMP staff regarding final selections.
- All TPSNG coordinators launch promotional and fundraising campaigns for their content areas.
Between March and May...
- AMC staff work with TPSNG coordinators to refine and finalize their content.
- TPSNG coordinators (with support of AMC staff) assist participants with AMC registration, travel, and housing arrangements
- The conference schedule and session logistics are finalized.
Between June and August...
- The AMC happens!!
- AMC staff conduct a post-AMC participant and coordinator survey.
- TPSNG coordinators debrief their AMC experience and share lessons and documentation from the AMC with their communities.
- AMC staff consolidate lessons and publicly share reflections on the conference.
- AMC staff plan for improvements on the design of the coming year’s conference
In January we open our Session Proposal process. This is the opportunity to propose a session within one of the official tracks or practices spaces, or as part of the "General Track". Around 80 TPSNG coordinators, along with AMC staff and advisors, will review all the session proposals and make selections.
AMC staff will make the final decisions around which sessions are selected, based on the recommendations of TPSNG coordinators and other advisers. Presenters of selected sessions are required to participate in an online training on how to make their session as engaging and accessible as possible.
Types of AMC Sessions
A 90 minute session that engages multiple senses in the learning process and allows participants to construct their own knowledge. They may use a mixture of: direct instruction, discussion, small group work, multi-media sharing, games, and making things.
A focused discussion amongst a specific group with a shared identity or interest. One-hour meetups are held during lunch, two-hour meetups happen over dinnertime.
A 90-minute session that focuses collective brain power around hard questions and generates clear next steps.
A 90 minute session that features three or more presenters and a strong moderator/facilitator sharing critical knowledge and expertise on a given subject matter, with ample Q&A time with participants.
Tours and field-trips
A 3-hour session that takes participants off campus to learn from the history and current realities of Detroit.
Film screening or performance
A 90 minute session that shares a piece of media or performance and provides the opportunity for participants to ask questions during or afterwards.
Practice space session
An interactive, hands-on session centered on media-making within a practice space.
A lecture or panel presented each morning for a large audience of AMC participants, featuring critical conversations with some of our network's most dynamic media-based organizers.
What makes a good AMC session?
- A clear connection to media-based organizing. "Media-based organizing" is any collaborative process that uses media, art, or technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.
- Holistically explores solutions that span the internal, interpersonal, and systemic dimensions of a problem
- Result in tangible resources and strategic next steps.
- Values the expertise of people most impacted by a problem to solve that problem
- Creates collaboration and connection. We love AMC sessions designed by multiple organizations or individuals, and that connect to an ongoing organizing process that extends beyond the conference. While collaboration is encouraged, we also welcome workshops from individuals and groups.
- Accessibility for people of diverse abilities, experiences, ages, and backgrounds. Uses clear language and activities that are accessible to people of all abilities.
- Hands-on, creative, imaginative, and fun
- Offers a range of learning opportunities: from beginner to advanced.
AMC delegations are groups who collectively fundraise, travel to, plan for and reflect on the conference together. Organizing a delegation for the AMC is a way for you to help make the AMC more accessible to your community.
Delegations at the AMC are groups of conference participants who:
- are joined by a shared identity, practice, issue, or geography.
- plan to collaboratively fundraise to attend the AMC
- will submit a delegation report back, including a short written summary and a media roundup.
- have a minimum of 5 people.
Limited support to delegations is offered by the AMC. Please contact us for details.
Want more info on how the AMC comes together? See our zines below! You can also watch our video playlist.