Some thoughts on monitoring, evaluating and researching culture

Introduction Last week, I participated in a round table discussion organised by the Cultural Value Scoping Project at Tate Modern. The initiative is a collaboration between the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation,  Arts Council England and King’s College London and King's College London. It aims to explore how research, evaluation, evidence-building and analysis into cultural … Continue reading Some thoughts on monitoring, evaluating and researching culture

Below the radar

There’s a lot of interest at the moment in the value of culture and cultural value (not the same thing), both in academic and policy terms, and I’ve touched on it before. Research programmes, initiatives like the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places and political speeches can all enrich the debate about how we understand … Continue reading Below the radar

A Three Pipe Problem (MCV8)

‘What are you going to do, then?’ I asked. ‘To smoke,’ he answered. ‘It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes.’ Arthur Conan Doyle (1891) The term ‘cultural value’ appeared in British policy discourse about 10 years ago, notably in Capturing Cultural Value, a … Continue reading A Three Pipe Problem (MCV8)

The value of everyday evaluation

‘We all began with the best of intentions, and then ran slap into reality. Very quickly, it was evident that the project was altogether impossible.’ So writes Elizabeth White (Director, British Council Azerbaijan) about a production of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy, performed in Baku by Azerbaijani actors in their own language. Her account of the … Continue reading The value of everyday evaluation

Quality in community art (MCV7)

The McMaster Review Fashions sometimes change quickly in the arts, and in arts policy too. In July 2007, the then Secretary of State for Culture, James Purnell, commissioned Sir Brian McMaster to undertake a review of 'excellence in the arts'. The report was published in January 2008 and for a few months, the art world … Continue reading Quality in community art (MCV7)

Portraying the change

How can you describe a cultural programme that has extended over 14 years, 9 countries and 3,000 projects? How do you account for its outcomes, the change it may have contributed to, and the effects on culture or society? That was the challenge faced by the small team of people who have managed the Swiss Cultural … Continue reading Portraying the change

Arts and Health evaluation (MCV5)

Learning about evaluation Fifteen years ago, at the end of Use or Ornament?, I rather naively raised the possibility of producing an evaluation handbook for arts projects. I’d been concerned with the conceptual, ethical, methodological and practical challenges of arts evaluation for some years, first as an arts practitioner and then a researcher. Even so, … Continue reading Arts and Health evaluation (MCV5)

The problem of ‘impact’ (MCV 4)

A conversation with Peter Wright at the Creative Communities 3 conference made me realize that it might be useful to explain why I no longer use the word ‘impact’ in relation to people’s experience of the arts. Peter, who teaches at Murdoch University in Western Australia, gave a rich presentation about his work with Big … Continue reading The problem of ‘impact’ (MCV 4)

A Different Heartbeat (MCV 3)

The gold standard in evaluation Twenty years ago, when I began thinking about how to improve the evaluation of community arts programmes, I turned to practice in health and medicine. I had been working with other artists in hospitals, care centres and other institutions for several years. Two large projects had been funded by the … Continue reading A Different Heartbeat (MCV 3)