Blog Posts for Research

Partnership and Shared Power in Evaluation

Posted by Carlton Turner, Oct 30, 2015 1 comment

In this Blog Salon’s first post, Maurine Knighton opens with a quote from William Bruce Cameron, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” The second half of that quote – “not everything that counts can be counted” – speaks directly to why the work of the Evaluation Lab is so timely and essential to the advancement of cultural equity in the arts. Artists and cultural workers who are deeply embedding social justice in their work are at the margins of our sector in funding and their work is made invisible by the majority of established institutions. Additionally, the work they are doing is rarely summed up by the standard metrics that funders require –– statistics culled from box office receipts and demographic surveys. Measuring change is an admirable task that will be innovated from the ground, not the air.

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What I Learned at the Learning Lab: a Few Thoughts on Art, Equity, and Social Justice

Posted by john@johnborstel.com, Oct 30, 2015 0 comments

I want to live in a world where there’s room for both studio artists and community artists.

I really want to live in a world where artists have the freedom to move back and forth between those two perspectives and – especially – to allow those two perspectives to inform one another.

I believe in art for justice’s sake, in art for learning’s sake, in art for discovery’s sake, in art for empowerment’s sake. I’d like to believe that when we say “art for art’s sake” we could mean any or all of that.

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Embedding creativity and values into evaluation

Posted by Jessica Solomon, Oct 27, 2015 0 comments

Evaluating the social and aesthetic efficacy of arts and social justice work requires disrupting mainstream evaluation practices that distort—or even undermine—the connections among art, culture, and social justice. We have the opportunity to embed creative, culturally relevant human-centered design into the way we evaluate our arts and social justice work. Our values and practices in our communities can be reflected in the way we evaluate our work.

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Why Evaluation?

Posted by Maurine D. Knighton, Oct 26, 2015 0 comments

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  Undoubtedly, we’re all familiar with this quote, which is popularly but erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein.  (In fact, this statement first appeared in 1963 in Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking,” written by sociologist William Bruce Cameron.) 

Whether or not Einstein said it originally, there’s irrefutable truth in the statement. And, this idea causes us to think about two key aspects of evaluation and assessment: what’s the best way to measure what we believe we can, and how to deal with the “unmeasurable.” 

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Dispatches from the Evaluation Learning Lab

Posted by Alicia Gregory, Oct 26, 2015 0 comments

In 2014, Animating Democracy, in partnership with the Art x Culture x Social Justice Network (ACSJN) and the Nathan Cummings Foundation launched the Evaluation Learning Lab. The lab builds practical knowledge and resources in three areas as they relate to arts and social change projects and programs:  measuring social impact, evaluating artistic/aesthetic dimensions, and equalizing power in evaluation.

Over the past year, guided by the Lab’s theory of change, we’ve gathered 20 artists, arts practitioners, funders, and evaluators in learning exchanges that combined case studies, presentations and discussion around existing evaluation theories and approaches, analysis of current frameworks, criteria, guidelines, and tools, and development of new tools for ethical practices.

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It’s not about marketing

Posted by Ms. Sarah Lutman, Oct 23, 2015 0 comments

There’s a very specific reason we pitched a session to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference on behalf of the Philadelphia-based Wyncote Foundation.

In a year’s research in 2014, we set out to understand the conditions and capacities that are encouraging innovation in the deployment of digital technology in the cultural sector, particularly among legacy cultural institutions. 

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