Whilst it is crucial to be able to report successes and failures back to funders, the value of evaluation goes far beyond demonstrating money well spent.
We at The Audience Agency are currently working on some interesting international initiatives that are exploring new ways to extract greater value from their evaluation processes:
Cities of Culture Research Network
- The Cities of Culture Research Network, for example, is an initiative led by the University of Hull and Warwick Business School.
- It is focused on the UK Cities of Culture, but is more broadly exploring the role of evaluation for similar initiatives, such as the European Capitals of Culture and the London Borough of Culture.
- The initiative aims to look (specifically) at the way that these evaluation studies can influence policy and (more generally) at how future capitals or cities of culture can benefit from what went before.
- You can follow the progress of this initiative on Twitter: @cities_culture. The first meeting takes place on 31 July 2019.
Encatc Working Group on Evaluation
- The Encatc Working Group on Evaluation has been looking at the role that evaluation plays in transversal collaborations, as well as its place in European projects more generally. It is examining a variety of themes, including 'audiences', which was the main subject of last year’s meeting in Manchester, co-hosted by The Audience Agency and The British Council.
- In future Working Group meetings, the group’s steering committee (of which The Audience Agency is a member) is working towards a publication, regular public events and some bold ideas around Europe-wide standards and measures for evaluation and monitoring.
The Future of Collaborative Evaluation
This theme will only continue to grow in importance on the international stage during the coming years. The European Commission, for example, has given significantly elevated the importance of evaluation in the European Capitals of Culture - the 2020 capitals are being asked to produce substantially more in-depth and robust evaluation studies into the engagement and impact of the celebrations than we have seen thus far.
At The Audience Agency we are constantly aiming to advance practice in evaluation, through both well-known and respected models as well as the more adventurous practice of ‘double-loop learning’, a process that encourages a more integral interrogation of what and given project or practice is trying to achieve:
"A thermostat that could ask, "why am I set to 68°F?" and then explore whether or not some other temperature might more economically achieve the goal of heating the room would be engaged in double-loop learning"
Chris Argyris, deviser of double-loop learning, Teaching Smart People How To Learn
We want to help cultural organisations to ask those interrogative questions of their original aims, based on evidence and a good learning perspective. It’s more relevant and important in the international cultural sphere than ever before.
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