Polly Stupples

Massey University, NZ

Polly StupplesPolly Stupples has recently completed a PhD in Development Studies on the agency of the arts in the context of international development – from an artist-centred perspective. She is currently teaching at Massey University (NZ), working as a consultant and developing post-doctoral research projects.

Evaluating the unpredicted: ‘non-instrumentalised’ arts policies in international development

International development is primarily concerned with poverty reduction and arts projects funded as development projects are frequently required to prove their contribution to a poverty reduction agenda.  This means that, in the context of development, the arts are frequently instrumentalised, or at least expected to provide both ‘instrumental’ and ‘intrinsic’ contributions.

Instrumentalisation, however, is resisted by many artists and by a small number of donors. Drawing on doctoral research undertaken with artists’ initiatives and donors active in Central America, this paper explores the politics and possibilities afforded by a clearly non-instrumental approach to arts funding in international development. In particular, it draws attention to donor evaluations that have deliberately set out to document (perhaps paradoxically) the social impacts of non-instrumentalised funding. This paper discusses the processes and outcomes involved in these evaluations, and their political implications. It also seeks to open up a discussion about the value of such evaluation techniques for assessing ‘open skies’ arts policies more broadly.



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