Working in community settings Multistory tends to use an outcomes based approach to evaluation. This approach is about setting and measuring specific indicators that all the partners see as indicators that the project has been a success.
The outcomes approach means that evaluation processes can be planned in advance and built into the delivery of a programme – it also means that the indicators can be decided by a range of stakeholders, from funders to participants as it is all about what success looks like to them. Whether that is about a new audience accessing a specific venue or service or about an increase in confidence or learning a new skill. As long as it can be measured in some way it can be an indicator.
Measurement doesn’t always have to relate to numbers, it can be about changes in perceptions, feelings or attitudes as long as these changes are recorded and documented throughout the duration of the project – this type of evaluation is particularly good for longer term community based projects as you will create positive relationships with participants and hopefully collect more information and a deeper insight into how taking part in the creative project has been of benefit to the participants.
There are lots of ways to collect evaluation material – and it is not to be confused with monitoring information (the numbers of attendees and who they were etc) – it’s not just about filling in sheets and tick boxes. Use your creative skills to think of new ways to collect evaluation materials. We use a lot of film and audio recordings and we ask the group leaders to also help us by writing/keeping a diary of the sessions and noting down any observations.
Arts and Health is a good sector to look at when it comes to evaluation of creative projects – they use a lot of different techniques and there are also issues around ethics and permissions to deal with that mean that their evaluation is often very thorough.
Another thing that we always try to evaluate at Multistory is our work and or approach to a project. It is about us reflecting on our practices as an organisation. Questions like how was a specific activity received, was our time used effectively, were there any issues from the clients perspective?
Some things to think about:
What are you evaluating – is it the impact that the activity has on the participants or the clients or how well you delivered the project?
Can you incorporate your evaluation collection into your project delivery?
What will you do with your evaluation – who will read it, see it or listen to it? This will effect how you present it once the project is finished. Again, use your creative skills to make it visual and interesting. People don't like reading dry reports and what better way to get your message across...