Questions for cultural project managers (when resources are limited and you need an evaluation)

In the world of creative projects, understanding the true impact of your effort is essential. Not just how many people turned up to something, or if they liked the sandwiches.

It’s not just about measuring success; it’s about navigating the path to growth (of ideas, reach, change, investment…), adapting to change, and making informed decisions. 

The always possible team are always helping clients to explore the core principles of arts evaluation on a budget. Grounded in problem-understanding and practical tools, some fundamentals might empower you to confidently navigate the realm of arts evaluation. Some seem obvious – but it doesn’t mean they are always considered.

Beyond single projects, what crucial role can evaluation play in your organisational development and learning? 

Craft a purpose-driven framework

Cultural projects thrive on purpose. Not just what parameters are set out by strict funding criteria Define a clear evaluation purpose aligned with your project’s creative vision.

Can you engage stakeholders early, involving them in shaping the evaluation’s purpose? A purpose-driven framework gives your evaluation direction and relevance.

Tailor metrics to creativity

Creativity often defies quantification through traditional metrics. Acknowledge that the impact of digital creativity may extend beyond easily measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). Embrace qualitative measures that capture the emotional and experiential aspects of creativity. Adapt your evaluation metrics to match the uniqueness of your project.

Can you move beyond traditional KPIs and embrace qualitative measures? Capture the intangible, emotional aspects of creativity that spreadsheet numbers can’t convey. Maybe you need to codify impact so that you can create a benchmark, even if it’s not simple maths.

Embrace inclusivity and community involvement

Our approach champions community involvement for richer evaluations. Explore why visitors engage with your project and how digital interactivity is aligned rather than scary. Investigate visitors’ prior experiences with digital elements to understand how these impact their current interactions.

Can you co-create the evaluation process with key stakeholders? Ensure accessibility and actively seek diverse perspectives for a comprehensive view. Easier said than done, but possibly easier than you think.

Maximise technology for efficiency

Technology streamlines evaluations, and teams like ours are developing ever-more experts in using it judiciously. Could we help yours?

Measure changes in visitors’ knowledge, enthusiasm, and comfort after engaging with digital interactives.

Can you utilise user-friendly digital platforms like Google Forms or Typeform for data collection? Consider advanced software like SPSS or R for complex analysis. 

Budget wisely without compromising quality

Effective evaluation needn’t break the bank.

Can you prioritise high-impact elements in your budget? Seek guidance from experienced evaluators if necessary. We’l wager that you are collecting data that you don’t need.

Explore free tools like Tableau Public and Google Data Studio for engaging reports. Can even basic AI help with initial analysis and spotting trends?

A crucial role in organisational development

Effective evaluation extends beyond single projects; it’s the cornerstone of organisational growth.

Recognise that the impact of digital interactives often extends beyond a single visit. Therefore, evaluate how these experiences affect long-term visitor behavior, knowledge, and psychological connection for arts and culture institutions.

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s ‘Art Museum Digital Impact Evaluation Toolkit’ is brilliant. Use best practice like this to inform your arts evaluation practices – helping your organisation remain adaptable and responsive to the changing dynamics of the digital age. By leveraging technology efficiently, you can shed more light on the impact of arts and culture that helps it to be easier to be human.

Top evaluation principles:

  • Analyse project successes and failures for valuable lessons, guiding future strategies and adaptation.
  • Use evaluation data to inform priorities, resource allocation, and strategy refinement.
  • Robust evaluations enhance accountability to stakeholders, ensuring efficient resource use. Let people know what you’re doing with their data!
  • Effective evaluation fosters a culture of experimentation and adaptation.
  • Evaluation insights drive ongoing improvement and agility.

In this era of fiscal constraints, these fundamentals, grounded in problem understanding and practical tools, empower you to navigate the realm of arts evaluation confidently. Effective evaluation isn’t just a project checkbox; it’s the catalyst for organisational wizardry.


Can your evaluation do more? 

Contact our creative research team.