Sometimes it’s useful to recruit an external evaluator to independently assess whether a project has achieved what it set out to do. Or you might need to consult with existing and potential audiences before or during a project. I specialise in audience research and evaluation for museums, libraries and archives and use a range of creative and participatory methods in my work. I also run evaluation training.

Scottish book trust

Independent evaluation of Digital Storytelling Residencies, a Scottish Government funded programme involving five library services across Scotland. The commission included:

  • Developing an evaluation framework with the staff team
  • Devising a suitable methodology and designing all primary research and monitoring tools
  • Primary research with participants, library staff, digital storytellers and community partners
  • Development and design of inclusive research tools to ensure equal participation in the evaluation for all those involved
  • Training library staff in evaluation and monitoring
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Final report and presentation.

Fountains abbey & studley royal (National trust)

Independent evaluation of folly!, a contemporary art programme at this National Trust and UNESCO World Heritage site. The project included:

  • Developing an evaluation framework with the staff team
  • Aligning the methodology with National Trust evaluation guidelines
  • Primary research with visitors, volunteers, artists and staff
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Final report and presentation.

Silverstone heritage experience

Consultation with potential audiences to inform NHLF Activity and Interpretation Plans. This included:

  • Identifying existing and potential audiences
  • Designing primary research methodologies
  • Recruitment of consultation groups
  • Designing an online survey for Silverstone fans
  • Primary qualitative research with non-user families
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Final report and presentation.

St helens libraries

Consultation with existing and potential audiences to identify barriers and drivers for the Cultural Hubs programme. This included:

  • Developing discussion guides
  • Conducting qualitative consultation with existing users
  • Depth interviews with non-users at libraries across the borough
  • Training staff in audience development
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Final report and presentation.

Other previous research & evaluation clients include:
London Transport Museum, Carnegie UK Trust, Manchester International Festival, Get it Loud in Libraries, Wirral Libraries, Aik Saath, More Music, Cheshire Archives, LeftCoast, Children & the Arts, Cheshire Dance, Royal Exchange Theatre, Arts Council England, Bronte Parsonage Museum, Signal Film & Media, Manchester Art Gallery, Macclesfield Museums, Canal & Rivers Trust, Manchester Museum, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Music in the Round, Signal Film & Media, Rosehill Theatre.

‘Marge Ainsley seriously knows her stuff. Frankly, if you’re serious about evaluation or measuring any project that you do, you should consider her as your first port of call.’

Ian Anstice, Time to Read Co-ordinator