Evaluation during the Pandemic

Evaluating Remote and Online Creative Activities During the Pandemic

Changes in approaches to evaluating creative activities delivered remotely or online during COVID-19 have been prompted by increased flexibility from funders and the continuing need to find appropriate, accessible and sustainable ways to access participant experience.

These are two of the findings uncovered through a recent curated online conversation, hosted by Willis NewsonCreative and Credible, Arts and Health South West and the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance, in association with Professor Norma Daykin and Dr Karen Gray.

 

The event, on 8th September 2020, brought together an invited group of 36 mainly UK-based arts practitioners, evaluators and researchers. Short keynote presentations from the field were followed by facilitated breakout discussions and a plenary.

Discussion highlighted the adaptive, improvisational, and innovative ways in which arts and health practice is responding to Covid-19.

 

Illustration by Emma Lazenby of Formed Films 

Evaluation was seen as critical in terms of providing evidence of outcomes in order to ensure the survival of the arts and cultural sector. However, with funders showing themselves to be flexible, many attendees had felt more able to question the type of evaluation that would be most useful. This had been accompanied by a shift from measuring quantitative outcomes to qualitative impact and process evaluation.

Attendees recognised evaluation as crucial to honing emerging practice, ensuring appropriateness and best meeting participant needs. It was felt that evaluating innovations in practice resulting from responses to Covid-19 could be critical to the long-term development of the sector.

Attendees asked: “How do we use existing forms of evaluation but not be limited by them?” They recognised that participatory and creative approaches to evaluation support its integration into project delivery, make participants feel more like people and less like data, and enable access to participant voices, authentic stories and experience.

Illustration by Emma Lazenby of Formed Films

Illustration by Emma Lazenby of Formed Films

The session raised questions for future discussion. How can we share insights from evaluation to inform both practice and policy? How can we share expertise and work collectively?  And, how can we continue to ensure quality by nurturing reflection in and on practice - even amidst a crisis?

A full report of the discussion is available to download here