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… Read More

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… Read More

‘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… Read More

‘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… Read More

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… Read More

On the face of it, it’s an odd question. After all, we know what a baker, a dentist or a banker is and, more to the point, it’s not difficult to say whether a person is, or is not, a baker, a… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More