Helping funders and arts organizers realize their vision since 1996.

SERVICES

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. With public scrutiny of nonprofits 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.

I wonder if you know what an enormous service to the field you have provided through your work with evaluation. You have helped to shape our thinking about the process, teaching us that it should begin and end with us.

—John Killacky
Former Program Officer for Arts
The San Francisco Foundation

As Affiliate Researcher at the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Callahan published a blog entry about the effects of COVID on the arts industry. Read it here.

Guides
Read some of our guides on Evaluation including The Art of Evaluation, which was called “a really great work and much needed in the arts.” (Vickie Benson, Former Arts Program Director, McKnight Foundation)

Training and Facilitation
Read about some of our past training in Evaluation and other areas.

Our Approach

Our participatory approach to arts evaluation allows you to choose the best mix of training and services, tailored to your mission and to funders’ requirements in this area of growing importance. Our clients learn about the ways in which their programs make a difference. We design, conduct, analyze, and present evaluations involving focus groups, interviews, surveys, and other qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

Our Results

  • National Racial Equity Measures.  Worked with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and other foundations to develop and pilot a measurement system to capture progress in addressing racial equity in its funding (2018-2020).
  • 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 organizations have used it to learn about their successes. Real-life stories, guides, and techniques from other fields are used to train practitioners to design their own evaluations. Read endorsements.
  • Developed evaluation frameworks and collected data for 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 Joe’s Movement Emporium’s Theater Tech Program, which trains high school students in 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 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 including 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 database systems that track the impact of grant making, allowing funders to gather, compare, search, transmit, and assess information. Systems were adapted to the needs of funding programs, such as the NPN’s residency program and the National College Choreography Initiative. 

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

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

Above: left and right photos courtesy of Marwen, center photo courtesy of Joe’s Movement Emporium.