Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden (National Trust)

In advance of my independent evaluation of ‘folly!’, an on-site contemporary art programme in 2018, I’m working with the Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden team to try out new methods of visitor feedback.

Getting ‘scrappy’ by using basic prototypes is allowing us to figure out what works – and doesn’t – across this large outdoor site. It’s also allowing us to capture baselines and produce a structured evaluation framework. It’s helping staff to challenge their ideas about what is possible in the space; including how participating in feedback can ‘enhance’ rather than impede the overall visitor experience.

I have to admit, it’s a real luxury to have an opportunity in advance to put these research instruments through their paces.

Following this year’s testing, my role will be to:

  • develop the final evaluation framework with clear outputs, outcomes, indicators and methods (working with the National Trust’s evaluation guidelines and expectations)
  • undertake primary research during folly! 2018
  • analysis of data (including against targets and benchmarks)
  • reporting and recommendations.

 Image: Bank Holiday Weekend 2017 prototyping voting board

London Transport Museum

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This included:

  • working with staff to create a robust evaluation framework
  • designing quantitative and qualitative research tools
  • undertaking primary research
  • analysing and interpreting data
  • writing up case studies throughout the programme and providing a final evaluation report.

The Inspire Engineering programme has been designed to increase awareness of careers in Engineering and Transport Planning among Key Stage 3 pupils. Delivered by London Transport Museum at the Museum Depot in Acton, the day includes:

  • a hands-on session called ‘Eggsperiment’
  • the opportunity to meet practicing engineers and planners from Transport for London
  • the opportunity to meet practicing engineers and planners from Transport for London
  • an exclusive look at the museums collection.

Photo: courtesy Lulu Ash and London Transport Museum.

Life’s a Drag (HLF)

Created by artist Jez Dolan, Life’s a Drag examines the history of drag in Manchester, beginning with the infamous Hulme Drag Ball of 1880, through to Manchester’s current Gender Queer drag revolution.

Photo credit: Joel Chester Fildes
Photo credit: Joel Chester Fildes

 

From Foo Foo Lamarr to Anna Phylactic, and from Jerome Caminada to Roxy Hart, this year-long project uncovers the secrets of Manchester’s drag stories and histories, through performance, exhibitions, workshops, a drag seminar, and oral history.

I’ve been responsible for co-ordinating the evaluation of the whole project, which includes quantitative and qualitative methodologies to ensure outputs and outcomes are measured effectively.

Signal Film and Media

Signal Film & Media provides specialist creative film and digital media access. Since 2001 the team has provided a unique resource for people of all ages and backgrounds to access free facilities, professional tutoring and hands-on experience in creative digital media.

My work involved undertaking both qualitative and quantitative research methods including:

  • an online survey
  • in-depth telephone interviews (participants and other key stakeholders)
  • consultation workshops (participants and staff).

The resulting report enabled Signal Film and Media to understand where their work is having the greatest impact and how they can continue to effectively measure what they do.

The team work from Barrow’s Cooke’s Studios, a new £2m creative media centre, where their facilities include edit suites, training rooms and a 60-seat cinema. They also provide residencies for visiting artists to produce new work through access to studio space in the brand new Cookes Studios arts facility. Their arts education programme engages local audiences and participants and their mentoring scheme supports the development of emerging local talent.

Signal Film & Media are a selected provider of the British Film Institute’s national Film Academy and as an artist-led company have a substantial track record of producing award-winning films for exhibition, broadcast and the commercial sector.

Image credit: Signal Film & Media, 2014

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Children & the Arts

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Photo: Courtesy Northern Ballet 

Developed with young people with progressive life-limiting illnesses and their families in mind, Start Hospices is intended to give participants the chance to have fun together as a family away from the demands of their daily lives. It allows families to experience and take part in high quality arts activity which they may not usually have access to.

I was commissioned by Children & the Arts to undertake an independent evaluation of Start Hospices 2013/14 and 2014/15. Venues included Northern Ballet, Clwyd Theatr Cymru  and The Fitzwilliam Museum. The methodological approach included:

  • in-depth interviews with hospice and arts organisation key staff members post-event
  • observation and monitoring at family days, including vox pops from participants
  • family post-visit online surveys.

Alongside Start Hospices, I’ve been the independent evaluator for the charity’s Start programme for schools since 2014.

More Music

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My research:

  • provided evidence to demonstrate some of the key outcomes and impacts that More Music has had on its current and past participants (drawing on the context of the last 20 years of operation)
  • outlined the current More Music audience profile, perception, engagement, satisfaction, behaviour and motivations (in order to be able to steer marketing strategy going forward)
  • assessed how the work of More Music has impacted on its internal audiences, considering professional development and key learning points/best practice examples within the context of the current business plan objectives
  • outlined stakeholders’ current perceptions of the organisation (in order to evidence how relationships could be strengthened and/or developed to achieve synergy of strategy and therefore encourage sustainability).

The findings are being used to inform and improve marketing planning, advocacy work, business planning and stakeholder relationships.

Manchester Art Gallery

The Experiment was a year long project to find out what the Pre-Raphaelite collection meant to today’s Mancunians. The gallery worked with local groups, families and schools to respond to and reinterpret four Pre-Raphaelite paintings from the collection. The display evolved across the year as different audiences responded to the works.

My work involved an independent evaluation of the overall project. This included employing mixed methodologies such as in-depth interviews, creative journey mapping and visitor observation.

image 3

Take a look at the April 2012 edition of Museums Practice for my case study about the schools part of the programme.

I presented my research findings from the experiment at Museum 2012: the socially purposeful museum conference in Taiwan (November 2012).

A short, informal video I created from the reflection day with teacher’s can also be viewed below.

Harris Museum & Art Gallery

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The Harris offered opportunities to artists through:

  • exhibiting at the regular Harris Open exhibition
  • exhibiting on the Stairway.

As well as:

  • programming wider international contemporary art exhibitions
  • employing artists to run workshops
  • offering talks, tours and events (often in collaboration with partners such as AND Festival).

As part of this exploratory research commission I investigated:

  • whether artists were aware of the opportunities available
  • which elements of the Harris’ work were valued
  • ideas of how the Harris might work with artists in the future.

This involved consulting with both artists and visitors through various qualitative and quantitative methodologies. A final report was produced for the Harris to use alongside their own research and evaluation to inform future strategy.


Image courtesy: Harris Museum/Carl Rose

We Face Forward

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Image courtesy The Whitworth Art Gallery

As part of this work I conducted qualitative and quantitative research with artists, volunteers, interns and volunteers. A mixed methodology was employed including online surveys and indepth telephone interviews.

Find out more about the project.

“Thank you very much for undertaking such a valuable evaluation of our We Face Forward programme. The findings have been a great help, both to us as an organisation, and in reporting back to our funders.”

Dr Nick Merriman, Director, Manchester Museum