University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Groundhog or Hound Dog? Is it time for arts impact evaluation to get a bit more rock and roll?

Groundhog or Hound Dog? Is it time for arts impact evaluation to get a bit more rock and roll?

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Conversations about arts impact evaluation can be sluggish and repetitive. This is unfortunate since arts programmes provide the opportunity for people to have unique experiences and explore aspects of themselves and the world around them which are, more often than not, extraordinary. Reflecting on experiences working with hundreds of arts organisations through the UKs largest music charity, Youth Music, Dougie and Nick present a case for a more creative and theoretically informed approach to arts impact evaluation. Rather than striving for a universal, positivist and ‘objective’ independent assessment of the effects of artistic participation we should embrace the opportunities presented by methodological developments from across the humanities, social sciences, and ‘natural’ sciences. It is in the hands of participants, artists, practitioners, and researchers to set the ‘gold standard’ of evaluation. This should embrace multiple (rigorous) methods and be based on thoughtful analysis of the many factors at play in arts programmes – at all levels. Having trained and supported over 500 organisations in the past five years to better understand and engage in thoughtful evaluation, Dougie and Nick suggest a possible way ahead for a theoretically informed, bottom-up, approach to arts impact evaluation. They suggest it’s time to shake things up, shift the paradigm and challenge the dominant structures.

Dr Douglas Lonie is a Consultant for BOP Consulting, the UK’s leading research organisation for the cultural and creative industries. Before joining BOP in January 2015, Douglas was Research and Evaluation Manager for the National Foundation for Youth Music. Douglas has a particular interest in the development of cultural identities, the impact of cultural participation on people and society, and cultural policy.

Nick Wilsdon is a Senior Grants & Learning Officer at the National Foundation for Youth Music. Previously Nick worked as a freelance musician and sound designer delivering workshops, training and building bespoke musical instruments.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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