PROCESSIONS, a once-in-a-lifetime mass participation artwork, celebrated 100 years of votes for women and was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's official arts programme for the WWI centenary. The main event was accompanied by 100 commissions from women artists to work with organisations and communities across the UK to create 100 centenary banners for PROCESSIONS, as part of an extensive public programme of creative workshops. The Audience Agency worked with Artichoke to evaluate the positive impact of these activities and the subsequent processions that took place simultaneously in June 2018 in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, including the successful engagement of new audiences, facilitation of community partnerships and raising of the project’s national profile.
Following the delivery of a range of impact studies for large scale public outdoor events, The Audience Agency was able to design a mixed methodology approach to satisfy the needs of Artichoke and its funders and stakeholders. Our rich experience of delivering high quality fieldwork in the public realm alongside evaluation of participative activity, well equipped us to support PROCESSIONS’ ambitious objectives. The added complexity of multiple and varying stakeholders across each nation made it all the more fundamental that we could support Artichoke in delivering the impact study confidently and effectively. The Audience Agency’s familiarity and ability to collaborate with a number of partners, from city councils and Arts Council England, to individual trusts, foundations and sponsors, was therefore crucial.
The Audience Agency was commissioned to evaluate all aspects of one of the largest mass-participation artworks in the UK, taking place simultaneously in the four capital cities. Women and girls were invited to take part in the procession to mark this historic moment, wearing a scarf of either green, white or violet - the colours of the suffragette movement – to create a flowing river of colour through the city streets, past the seats of power. Before the June processions themselves, 100 women artists were commissioned to work with 90 organisations and communities across the UK to create 100 centenary banners, forming part of Artichoke’s community engagement programme – a wide reaching project, requiring careful synchronicity of approach and evaluation.
The evaluation focused on three key strands - artistic outcomes, partnerships and audience impact – complementing the overall evaluation framework of PROCESSIONS’ commissioning partner, 14-18 NOW.
On the day of PROCESSIONS:
- The spectators experience was captured in each of the cities, through a face-to-face survey
- Vox pops captured the experience of those processing.
After the event:
- E-surveys were sent to all that had registered in advance to take part
- A You Gov omnibus survey was created in order to gauge the public awareness of the project
- E-surveys were sent to all artists, the 90 commissioning organisations and workshop participants
- 8 case studies were generated from telephone interviews with artists and the commissioning organisations involved in the banner–making workshops.
The study took a 360 approach to evidencing impacts for participants of the procession and the engagement work. The range of methodologies deployed explored the strengths of the concept overall, engagement with the story of women’s emancipation and of Artichoke’s approach to engagement. The story that emerged from the evaluation is a heartening reflection on the commendable work that went in to bringing this extraordinary project to life:
The process of this project echoed the way the suffragettes worked together for an event, working collaboratively – you can identify with how they would have felt and you felt like you were walking in their shoes. The final event was really exciting – the media echoed the things you had been looking at, how the suffragettes had positioned themselves – a really circular project.
Has the shift to working from home moved the goal posts for local arts attendance? Oliver Mantell has been considering the evidence of attendance at live arts events.
Insights into UK arts organisations' necessary pivots to online content and engagement during the pandemic.