By Tim Leighton (Operations Director)
In a post-COVID era when so much has changed for arts & cultural organizations, one of the biggest challenges has been re-establishing full-time operations, often to a new or adjusted business model. Couple that with huge “knowledge drain” caused by a significant turnover of staff during lockdown and wider funding challenges, it is understandable why there’s currently a big sector-wide focus on how to get the best value from critical business systems.
Artifax user summits have been a regular feature in North America over the past decade and I have been privileged to have attended all but one of them, including Nashville 2020. Time after time, attendees have commented to me about the value of spending a few intensive days together with other organizations using ArtifaxEvent to learn, share and network. We caught up with Laura McMullin, two-time summit attendee, now one of our stellar Product Specialists and part of the 2023 summit team, to ask what specifically makes the Artifax User Summits so special for users.
What organization did you work for before joining Artifax?
LM: "I worked for the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA for a little over 3 years. I was actually hired as a Theater Sales Coordinator originally and worked my way into a more operational position as a Theater Operations Specialist. That meant that I was overseeing our usage and efficiencies with our systems (mainly Artifax) and how those systems worked in conjunction with our Events."
Why did this organization choose you to attend the Artifax User Summits?
LM: "Since I was overseeing Artifax, and admittedly, in the system as often as I could get, it became an obvious decision to send me to the summit. I was considered the power user of the system at the time and with this great power comes great responsibility to keep learning!"
Why did you think it important to attend these events?
LM: "The first summit I attended was with my director at the time. When you work at an arts organization, it's oftentimes hard to speak with other venues who are doing what you're doing - mostly because everyone is so busy. It was amazing for me to chat with other users at the summit and see what they were doing at their organizations. The second summit I went to (Nashville 2020) I looked forward to meeting up with friends I had made the previous year and learning more about the system. Following both summits, I came back to my organization with more ideas on how to improve the system and save us time."
What did you bring back to your organization after the summit?
LM: "The summits always offered something a little different in terms of topics - from change management to onboarding additional users. There was something for everyone! My biggest takeaways were the types of reports other organizations were using; I hadn't realized how many report options Artifax offered that we weren't making use of. After the first summit I attended, I also implemented a training plan within my organization for Artifax that helped our users get more comfortable with the system. That's something I would not have been prepared for prior to attending the summit!"
What was your favorite session there?
LM: "We did a session on change management and that was incredibly helpful. Especially when you have users that are disinterested in software, to begin with. There was also a session on sharing our favorite reports and that provided so many ideas on what we could implement at our organization. We also had time for fun during the Artifax Olympics (2020 reigning champ here!)."
What are you most excited about, now you are delivering the sessions rather than participating?
LM:"I didn't realize how differently I would view the software once I started working for Artifax. I loved it before I joined the team and I think I love it even more now. I've seen first-hand how the system can help organizations to streamline their workflows and tighten their processes. I also know that our customer service is some of the best of any software company I have personally worked with in the past. I love talking about how passionate I am about this product and I'm really excited to share my knowledge. I am a huge proponent of community over competition, and I think the Summit is an excellent example of what we at Artifax do best. I can't wait to see my friends again (after 3 years!) and catch up on our new favorite reports, updates we have made to the system recently, and what we plan on doing for the future."
For the reasons outlined at the start of this article, Toronto 2023 is set to be the most important summit staged so far. In addition to wide-reaching sessions presented by our team of experts, there will be an opportunity to visit not one, but two amazing venues in Toronto who are both powered by ArtifaxEvent.
Still not signed up for Toronto 2023? Check out our Summit page for more details of how to register, together with an outline of the summit schedule.