Singing Our Praises

Singing Our Praises:
Case Studies in the Art of Evaluation


by Suzanne Callahan

Commissioned by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters

2005 Outstanding Publication Award, American Evaluation Association

Singing Our Praises demystifies evaluation by highlighting glowing examples of how arts presenters have used it to learn about their success. Using the concept of participatory evaluation, it empowers artists and partners to define success in ways that reflect their shared values. Real-life stories, guides and techniques from other fields are used to train practitioners to design their own evaluations, shifting this burdensome requirement into a useful tool. This book enhances the growing national dialogue to expand the ways in which the arts are assessed and ultimately valued.

Singing Our Praises was honored by the AEA with its sole national award for a publication in 2005 for being "instrumental to the development of theory or practice in the field of evaluation."


Bravo, Suzanne Callahan, for writing a comprehensive guide to arts evaluation that clarifies the process for arts and cultural organizations and pushes the evaluation conversation further.

                                               —Norma Fleischman and Kathlyn M. Steedly
                                                 American Journal of Evaluation, March 2006

The benefits of fashioning and executing an evaluation process in the arts, as clearly as Ms. Callahan has, cannot be underestimated...I have no doubt that Singing Our Praises will be a resource to be found on the shelf of every forward-thinking arts professional.

                                            —Julia Ward, Consultant and Professor,
                                              George Mason University

A great addition to a woefully lacking canon of literature on this subject as it pertains to the unique joys and pitfalls of arts presenting.
                                                                                            —Amy Dupain Vashaw
                              Center for the Performing Arts, Pennsylvania State University

The subject matter was so comprehensively covered. The author took complex terms and made them relevant to us. And best of all -I can't say this enough-it was presented in a way that really works in our industry. This is a super great work!
                                                                                                                    —Laura Levy
                              Lied Center for the Performing Arts, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


In the book you will:

  • Read compelling stories about the ways in which your peers have used evaluation to learn about their programs in case studies about industry leaders -- the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dance Center of Columbia College, Links Hall, Improbable Theatre and the British Council.
  • Translate requirements, such as "goals" and "outcomes," into true measures of your success, using advice and tricks of the trade from an evaluation expert.
  • Learn the technical aspects of evaluation, in the chapter Try This at Home, and use them to evaluate your own programs through a step-by-step approach.
  • Find short summaries of the findings from national arts studies and learn how they can support your own evaluation.


The book speaks to those who work throughout the arts field. Perfect for presenters, performing arts ensembles, marketing and development staff, artists, agents, teachers, and funders.