This page provides information about evaluation that is suitable for local government cultural development professionals. Resources are provided to assist with evaluation of cultural development plans overall as well as activities within them.
This Framework includes evaluation as one of the six principles in this Framework because of the importance of considering outcomes at all stages of the project- from the initial conception, throughout its implementation and at the end. Evaluation should not be an afterthought at the end of the project, but a fundamental aspect of its design. Planners need to consider what change they are looking for, and how they will know that it has occurred, before they begin.
The definition of evaluation we will use:
Evaluation is a systematic determination of a subject’s merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards.
It can assist an organization, program, project to assess any aim, realisable concept/proposal, or any alternative, to help in decision-making; or to ascertain the degree of achievement or value in regard to the aim and objectives and results of any such action that has been completed (Staff, 2012).
A good evaluation process is one that engages stakeholders in what matters to them and that provides evidence that is understandable and credible to an outsider (IXIA, 2013).
Evaluation as part of the learning cycle
Good evaluation is part of the learning cycle that is at the heart of all good management models. Stages of the evaluation process are:
- understanding the scope and objectives of the project
- monitoring and reporting progress
- capturing project issues
- reporting on fulfilment of project objectives
- post-project review
- reporting lessons learned
- informing future work.
Basic processes of evaluation
1: Establishing criteria on which the intervention will be judged. Or, on what dimensions must the intervention do well?
2: Deciding on standards (or targets). How well should the intervention perform?
3: Measuring actual performance, and comparing this with the set standards. How does actual performance compare with expected performance?
4: Making a judgment on the basis of these steps. What is the merit or worth of the intervention? (Scriven, 1991).
Action Step 6a: Evaluating your cultural development plan
These pages provide information and tools for evaluating your cultural development plan at three stages: when it has just been written, when it is being used, and at the end of its lifecycle. More here
Evaluating cultural development initiatives
Governments at all levels and publicly funded organisations are increasingly required to demonstrate value of their activity and investment for communities they serve. However, this has been difficult with respect to cultural development activities, including the arts, because the articulation of outcomes and therefore the value of the activity has been considered particularly challenging. To address this issue, CDN has created a Schema of Measurable Outcomes for this Planning Framework. The schema posits five domains (cultural, social, civic, economic and environmental), of public policy and activity, and articulates outcomes of cultural activity in each of these domains as well as measures to assess those outcomes and methods that could be used to gather data.
A detailed resource providing information about every step of the evaluation process for cultural activities is available here.
IXIA Public Art Think Tank (2013). Public Art: A Guide to Evaluation. London: IXIA Public Art Think Tank. Retrieved from http://ixia-info.com/files/2009/01/Public-Art-A-Guide-to-Evaluation-3rd-Edition-March-2013-edit7-FV.pdf .
Scriven,M. (1991). Evaluation thesaurus (4th ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Staff (1995–2012). “2. What Is Evaluation?”. International Center for Alcohol Policies – Analysis. Balance. Partnership. International Center for Alcohol Policies. Retrieved 13 May2012.