Evaluation

If you were asked to identify the ways in which your programs were successful, what would you say? What kinds of evidence could you use to back up your claim?

Have you ever struggled to find the right words to describe your programs' outcomes?

Whether you are a funder or a nonprofit, the biggest evaluation issue you face is not your lack of impact. Rather, it's knowing how to talk about, or measure, your impact. In a time when public scrutiny of nonprofits is at an all-time high, we're proud to be a leader in the evaluation field, developing techniques that work for artists and the organizations that support them. We've published books and won national awards in evaluation, and we teach and lecture about it.
 

Our Approach

Our participatory approach to arts evaluation is designed to allow you to choose the best mix of training and services, tailoring your choice both to your unique artistic mission and to funders’ requirements in this area of growing importance. Our clients learn about the ways in which their programs make a difference through a range of options. We design, conduct, analyze, and present evaluations involving focus groups, interviews, surveys, and other qualitative and quantitative research methods. By administering surveys online, the firm provides clients a professional, yet anonymous way to gather information.
 

Our Results

  • Commissioned to write Singing Our Praises: Case Studies of the Art of Evaluation. This book, which received a top national award in the evaluation field, demystifies evaluation by highlighting examples of how arts presenters have used it to learn about their success. Real-life stories, guides, and techniques from other fields are used to train practitioners to design their own evaluations, many of whom have endorsed the book.
  • Developed evaluation frameworks and collected data for numerous arts programs for young people, to learn about the impact of these programs on the lives of its students and/or their families. Recent programs include Joes Movement Emporium’s Theater Tech Program, which trains high school students in using film and media and places them in jobs; Peabody Institute’s Tuned-In program in Baltimore, MD, which offers classical music training to students on scholarship; and Sitar Arts Center, whose after-school programs train youth in visual and performing arts.
  • Created free evaluation guides for arts and social impact, for artists and organizations that wish to begin considering the impact of their programs but are not ready to embark on a full evaluation.
  • Conceptualized and developed content for the website IMPACT Arts for the Arts and Civic Engagement Impact Initiative of Animating Democracy at Americans for the Arts (AFTA). As one of their national advisors, we provided concepts, text, and resources for the initial website.
  • Commissioned to write a field study on the artist Rha Goddess and the Hip Hop Mental Health Project, to explore methods of evaluating audience response to Low, an emotionally charged performance that tells the story of a young woman's descent into the mental illness and inability to access the healthcare system.
  • On behalf of the Covenant Foundation, conducted an evaluation of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's Small Dances About Big Ideas, a theatrical work that takes a challenging look at mass violence, the scope of human compassion, and the capacity of the law to address genocide and other systematic atrocities. The evaluation asked Jewish educators, classroom teachers, and general audiences in three cities about their reactions and how they were moved by Small Dances—sometimes to tears, sometimes to greater insight and sometimes to action—through unique survey instruments.
  • Offered customized trainings on evaluation to organizations such as: Sitar Arts Center (DC); Southern Arts Federation (Atlanta); Creative Campus Initiative, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa); University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee); and Kenan Institute for the Arts (Winston-Salem).
  • Grant Tracking and Evaluation. Designed a database system that tracks the impact of grant making, allowing funders to gather, compare, search, transmit, and assess information. This system was adapted to the needs of funding programs, such as the NPN's residency program and the National College Choreography Initiative. Provides support to organizations in measuring and reporting their impact to private and public funders.
  • Developed the curriculum for Participatory Evaluation, a course at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' Winter Institute, in conjunction with Innovation Network, in order to increase organizations' understanding and skills in these important areas.

Learn how effective evaluation can assist you in building funding for your work.

Lear about our research for funders and evaluations of their programs.