Dr Vicki-Ann Ware

Monash and Deakin University

Vicki-Ann WareDr Vicki-Ann Ware Ph.D., B.A., B.Mus., Cert TEFLA, Director & Program Manager Music & Arts Projects
Vicki-Ann is an Adjunct Research Associate of the School of Music – Conservatorium, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). She has a PhD in Ethnomusicology, and has worked in community arts and cultural preservation projects in Thailand and other mainland Southeast Asian countries for more than a decade. She is currently conducting a systematic review of evidence on the role of the arts in international development with Kim Dunphy. Vicki is also employed by a government research agency, conducting social policy research and has also recently joined Graceworks, a small Australian aid & development agency working in Myanmar.

Approaches to understanding the impact of participatory arts in international development

The task of international development is to improve human-wellbeing, with priority placed on reduction of poverty and suffering.  Participatory arts initiatives are increasingly being used around the world to contribute to desired outcomes, such as the priorities of the Millennium Development Goals of ending hunger, universal education, gender equity, child health, maternal health, combat AIDS/HIV, environmental sustainability and global partnerships.  Within the field of international development, monitoring and evaluation practices are increasingly emphasised, so that impact can be better understood and resources spent more wisely.  At the same time, within the field of participatory arts, new ideas are being generated about ways to understand and measure impact.

However, when the two fields coalesce, the practice of understanding impact becomes more challenging.  This presentation provides an overview of the literature on evaluation of participatory arts initiatives across the broad field of international development. Derived from a systematic review of more than 200 articles, findings indicate some clear trends.  Approaches are largely qualitative, with case descriptions being most common, and practitioner critical reflection and structured evaluation much less frequent.  While claims about outcomes are prevalent, little of the literature indicates use of systematic data collection or critical analysis of findings to support these claims. Nor do there seem to be any strong trends in the use of methodological frameworks or evaluation tools. This presentation will provide some musings about the factors that contribute to this situation, some examples of best practice and suggestions for future directions for research and development of measures.

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