Evaluation in participatory arts programmes

Evaluation in participatory arts programmes

By Creative People and Places Network


Creative People and Places teams, artists, evaluation partners and critical friends share a selection of approaches, models and methods for evaluating participatory arts programmes.

Since the Creative People and Places (CPP) programme began in 2013, individual programmes have been developing a range of interesting evaluation approaches, models and tools.

Each CPP Place commissions a local evaluation, conducted by an external evaluator/agency to answer the main programme evaluation questions. The National Evaluation draws on these evaluations in the programme-level review.

The three programme evaluation questions driving the CPP National Evaluation are:

  1. Are more people from places of least engagement experiencing and inspired
    by the arts?
  2. To what extent was the aspiration for excellence of art and excellence of the
    process of engaging communities achieved?
  3. Which approaches were successful and what were lessons learned?

Local evaluators also conduct local-level analysis and locally relevant research into arts engagement and social and individual impact.

Not only are the outcomes of local evaluations demonstrating early impact, generating new knowledge about audiences and informing CPP Places’ programming, they are being employed within an ethos of community participatory opportunities. As such many methods and approaches seek to understand and engage audiences in new ways. Many examples are experimental and creative, explore the nature of excellence and meet both the needs and vision of CPP Places. They are developed within new dynamic partnerships and they often mirror the values of CPP itself.

"...many methods and approaches seek to understand and engage audiences in new ways."

This compendium presents a sample of these examples from 2013 to 2016 – offered and written by CPP directors and managers, critical friends, local evaluators and artists – to readers who may be thinking about their own evaluation in community contexts and participatory programmes.

In Chapter 1 on measures, metrics and models, two Places speak about adopting metrics and scales to understand their programmes in terms of wellbeing (bait) and cultural taste (Peterborough Presents), while one Place evaluator presents its Social Value approach and its learning around Social Return on Investment (MB Associates for Transported).

In Chapter 2 on evaluation tools, one critical friend and two Place directors offer examples of their evaluation forms, creatively designed and used to collect qualitative feedback and the key quantitative audience data essential for monitoring (Ideas Test, Appetite) and to measure excellence through peer review (Ruth Melville for Market Place).

In Chapter 3 on collaborative evaluation, a CPP Director and two evaluation partners speak about their methods for collaboratively defining, with their audiences, cultural wellbeing (East Durham Creates and Consilium) and quality (Creative Communities Unit for First Art and Appetite) to develop an evaluation framework around.

In Chapter 4 on quantitative and qualitative methodologies, evaluation partners speak about the quantitative methodology they adopted to measure, amongst other things, arts participation (Blackpool Council for LeftCoast), while another evaluator talks about the rich qualitative information gained through film in their evaluation (Research as Evidence for Market Place).

In Chapter 5 on creative qualitative evaluation in action, three Places present images of a range of creative methods in situ, developed for gathering feedback in engaging ways (Appetite, Market Place, Ideas Test).

In Chapter 6 on creative evaluation outputs, artist Nicola Winstanley, who was commissioned by the Creative Communities Unit (evaluators for Appetite), explains an artist-led approach to developing alternative case studies. Additionally writer Sarah Butler and artist Nicole Mollett introduce their programme-wide creative commission for the CPP National Evaluation.

In Chapter 7 on data management, bait introduces their CRM data management system which allows them to enter and track details of participants and artists across their programmes.

Our gratitude goes to those CPP teams and evaluation partners who have taken the time to contribute to this compendium. We hope this will help support others to push the practice of evaluation of arts especially within participatory settings by sharing some of these approaches, the benefits and challenges and further reading.

Download the full compendium to read on:

Evaluation in participatory arts programmes (PDF)

Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2017