The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

Conference Keynote Speakers

Conference Keynote Speakers

keynote logos 2016

We are delighted to welcome two keynote speakers to this years’ conference who can open up the discussion on how we turn audience research into action.

Lamia Dabboussy is Head of Audience Planning and Brand Insight at the BBC and Esme Ward is Head of Learning and Engagement at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum at the University of Manchester.

As Head of Audience Planning and Brand Insight at the BBC, Lamia Dabboussy leads a team delivering world-class brand, reputation and marketing insight alongside inspiring audience-led creative strategy for BBC editorial, products and services.
During her 8 years with the BBC Lamia has worked with the likes of Strictly, Horizon and The Culture Show, helped to reinvent Local Radio Breakfast and Mid-Morning programmes across the country and develop the connected television product for BBC News. Recently Lamia has led on the BBC Arts Strategy and the upcoming 2016 Shakespeare Festival.
Lamia started her career in advertising, working for boutique agency Jack Watts Currie in Sydney, moving on to policy and public affairs before a brief detour into academia. Prior to moving to the UK and joining the BBC in 2007 Lamia led a three-year strategic research collaboration between Australia’s second public broadcaster The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and the Universities of New South Wales and Western Sydney. Her book – co-authored with Gay Hawkins and Ien Ang – is The SBS Story: The Challenge of Cultural Diversity.

The Whitworth, part of the University of Manchester, reopened in February 2015 after a £15 million development that transformed the gallery, doubling it in size and creating new spaces that embrace the park it calls home. Since reopening, visitor figures have surpassed all expectations and it has won countless awards including Artfund Museum of the Year, Leading Culture Destination’s Emerging Cultural Destination (Europe) and it was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. Esme is a key member of the leadership team who developed the new Whitworth. She has led some of its most bold and challenging work around engaging new audiences, handling authority and ownership to visitors, taking creative risks with programmes and making community part of the organisation’s artistic and creative mission. She has worked in museums and galleries for 20 years, including the V&A, Dulwich Picture Gallery and the National Trust before founding the learning and engagement programme in Manchester. She has overseen the growth of this work to include award-winning programmes and partnerships with formal learning, arts and health, early years, families and age friendly communities. She is also Head of Engagement at Manchester Museum, co-teaches an MA Creative Learning in the Institute for Cultural Practice and is Strategic Lead for Age Friendly Manchester.

For the full conference programme and booking details visit

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