Blog Posts for Evaluation Learning Lab

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 [email protected], 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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Cooking up Frameworks - Inviting You to the Evaluation Test Kitchen

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, Oct 29, 2015 0 comments

At the October Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) conference, artist Rosten Woo described the Vendor Power! project, a poster/brochure initiated by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and designed by artist Candy Chang to make comprehensible New York City’s most commonly violated street vending rules which are buried in hundreds of pages of impenetrable bureaucratese.  For thousands of vendors whose first language is not English, the Vendor Power! poster became an essential tool, directly helping them to understand their rights, avoid fines, and know how to respond when approached by police. Woo reported with satisfaction that, following CUP’s distribution of 10,000 posters, the Dept. of Consumer Affairs seized the poster’s power to address a longstanding institutional problem and printed another 10,000. Here the system took action to change a problematic practice.  If only evidence of change was always so clear!

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Posted by Rise Wilson, Oct 27, 2015 0 comments

I recognize that for many artists and arts professionals the very language of “measuring impact” makes your skin crawl. That the highly personal, downright epistemological work you do is beyond the transactional input/output speech of “measurement.” That may or may not be so, but if we as cultural workers can’t articulate the significance of our work, we limit the full spectrum of support available to us. And if in aggregate we can’t name our impact as a field, we remain vulnerable to the persistent devaluation of arts and culture as frivolous at best and elitist and self-referential at worst.

So the question is How best to tell the story of our projects, our organizations, our purpose so that the meaning of our work is as transparent as the value it creates? And how to do so while negotiating the power dynamics of external standards driven by grant reporting requirements and an arts economy that regularly changes the mechanisms by which art is valued? 

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Fathers, Felled Trees, and Memory as Innovation

Posted by Nick Slie, Oct 27, 2015 1 comment

When I was twenty years old, I had the great fortune of watching my father die. My dad and I were not close for most of my life, although when I found out he was dying of cancer, I saw an opportunity to reckon with the past by being with him for his final year on earth. Close to twelve months later, early one mild December morning, he died. I’ll never forget how far time stretched during the last minute of his life, how many possibilities I saw ignited in that room when we all said our goodbyes. Over sixteen years, the tremble of that one minute has never ceased its work on me, growing more influential by the season. 

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Posted by Mr. Mark Valdez, Oct 27, 2015 2 comments

Here's a thought: what if we stopped thinking about art and social justice and instead looked at art as social justice? By keeping them separate, we are asked to value one over the other, or worse, we make one subservient, a mere tool that's in service of the other. I posit that maybe they can be one in the same.

I don't mean to imply that all can or should function as social justice. But there is a small and growing part of the field that is proving that the art itself can be a manifestation of social justice.

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