Theory of change is increasingly used in planning and evaluation to understand causal factors that lead to desired community change (Anderson, 2005). It can be used in cultural development planning to strengthen the relationship between the change we seek to inspire or initiate and our activities.
A theory of change can help:
- sharpen the articulation of outcomes
- consider what is and is not possible to achieve with an arts-based program or project
- think about what inputs might be needed – internal and external – and when/where input(s) might be most catalytic or strategic
- examine whether or not an intervention will have a meaningful or powerful enough effect
- stay focussed when unexpected events or inputs emerge
- practice evaluative thinking
More about theory of change in relation to arts and cultural development
Theory of change is a process that articulates how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is part of a family of program theories, which include intervention logic, logic model, program logic and theory based evaluation (Funnell & Rogers, 2011). The idea originated in the field of evaluation in response to the challenge of understanding causal factors that lead to desired community change (Anderson, 2005; Weiss, 1995)… Read more
Animating Democracy (2015). Developing a logic model. Washington: Animating Democracy.
A development tool to help cultural organizations plan, define, and evaluate arts-based civic engagement
Cultural Research Network (2018), Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about theory of change: an advanced workshop on theory of change applications in the arts. With the support of the Cultural Research Network, Ian David Moss and Dr. Kim Dunphy organised a Virtual Study Group to present different perspectives and applications of theory of change. Watch a recording of the webinar here
Better Evaluation (2016). Theory of change – guidance on developing, representing, and using.
This blog page from evaluation experts Better Evaluation offers detailed information about good and best practice in using theory of change.
International Association for Impact Evaluation (2015). How to build a theory of change for an impact evaluation. Youtube video.
In this short video, Professor Howard White outlines the principles of theory of change and illustrates the steps involved in building a theory of change for an impact evaluation.
Rogers, P. (2016). How do I choose a suitable theory of change. Melbourne: Better Evaluation.
In this blog, evaluation expert Patricia Rogers discusses how to develop a theory of change that is more than just a series of boxes with arrows between activities and outcomes.
Anderson, A. (2005). The community builder’s approach to theory of change: A practical guide to theory and development. New York: The Aspen Institute.
Animating Democracy (2012). Theory of change.
Leading American arts funding organization promotes theory of change.
Createquity (2012). In defense of logic models. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
Artists and organisers talk about logic models.
Funnell, S., & Rogers, P. (2011). Purposeful program theory: effective use of theories of change and logic models. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kellogg Foundation (2004). Logic model development guide, Kellogg Foundation, USA. User friendly model from US non-profit foundation.I
Theory of Change (2016). Theory of Change.
Weiss, G. (1995). Nothing as practical as good theory: Exploring theory-based evaluation for comprehensive community initiatives for children and families. In J. Connell, A. Kubisch, L. Schorr, & C. Weiss (Eds.). New Approaches to Evaluating Comprehensive Community Initiatives. New York: The Aspen Roundtable Institute.