Case Study: Research, Evaluation & Design

Arts Council England – evaluation


always possible was appointed as independent evaluator of the Arts Council England (ACE) Investment Principles Resource Hub.


ACE is the national development agency for creativity and culture, investing public money from government and The National Lottery to help support the arts and to achieve their new strategic vision Let’s Create.

By 2030, ACE want England to be a country in which individual creativity is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences.

An image of the front cover of the evaluation report - title Investment Principles Resource Hub Evaluation with 3 icons and logos at the top for Arts Council England, always possible and apRESEARCH.

Underpinning Let’s Create are four new Investment Principles: Ambition & Quality, Dynamism, Environmental Responsibility, Inclusivity & Relevance. The Investment Principles (IPs) aim to act as development tools for the creative and cultural sector that can be benefitted from even without applying for funding, and inform decision making across the full range of their funding programmes.

An Investment Principles Resource Hub houses content designed to support individuals and organisations working in creativity and culture to develop their creative practice and understand how to embed the Investment Principles.



The IP Resource Hub had been live on the Arts Council website for a year, but there was no way to tell how it was being received – whether the content was engaging its intended audience and how useful the sector found it. 

ACE identified the need for an independent evaluation of the Hub to:

  • establish an external reference group of creative and cultural specialists to understand perceptions within the cultural sector around the current content – including how useful, relevant, and inspirational it is for the sector, and what content has landed well. 
  • identify any gaps in the Resource Hub content along with insight and recommendations for what could be improved and what content would be most useful in the future.


  • A scoping workshop with ACE team – SWOT analysis of the current Resource Hub
  • Development of an evaluation plan with appropriate approach and methodology
  • Recruitment of 10 diverse participants for the Reference Group
  • 4 Reference Group sessions
  • 1 Youth Advisory Board session
  • Design and distribution of a survey
  • Research and analysis of all available data relating to Hub usage
  • Critical friendship


  • A full audit of resources ✓
  • Clarity about which resources were working well and which weren’t ✓
  • Qualitative feedback from 337 survey respondents ✓
  • A clear and easy navigable report detailing our findings and recommendations ✓
  • Confidence about the future direction of the Hub and its content ✓
  • An engaged and motivated team ✓
  • Recommended improvements the team were able to action immediately ✓

We’ve had such a great experience of working with always possible. Their knowledge of our sector made them stand out. The whole process was streamlined with one point of contact who was proactive in steering us through.

Having a reference group delivered to this high standard, with this structure, was something new for us, but something we see the value of moving forward.

As well as really practical and actionable, the recommendations encouraged us to think more about the purpose of what we are doing, who it is for and the best way to communicate this.

The final report was well structured and easy to navigate. We would definitely work with always possible again.

Nick Birchill

Project Manager, Development Programmes, Arts Council England