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Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch Articulates their Ambitions

This case study focusses on the Articulating Ambitions process undertaken by Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch (QTH) and the work they have done in selecting their own dimensions. Mathew Russell was kind enough to explain their approach to doing this, and agreed for us to share this so that others might learn from their experience.

Many thanks to Mathew Russell at QTH for continuing to work with us!

Multicoloured lightbulbs Image Credit: Dstudio Bcn on Unsplash

In August 2023, we spoke with Mathew Russell of Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch about work they had done to select their own dimensions[1] in line with the Articulating Ambitions guidance.

The overarching idea with the Articulating Ambitions process is that, by picking dimensions that reflect your organisation’s ambitions, the Impact & Insight Toolkit (Toolkit) can provide you with insight and analysis that will be truly valuable to you and your colleagues. You can find more detail in the Evaluation Guide.


As a quick reminder, there are two steps to complete the process:


  1. Select a larger set of dimensions from the Dimensions Framework which are a good reflection of your organisation’s overall mission. We would recommend selecting 10-15 dimensions to cover your organisation’s ambitions.
  2. From this larger set of 10-15 dimensions, select 4-6 dimensions for the different types of work your organisation delivers.


We have also stressed the importance of board involvement in choosing the dimensions.  This is due to the emphasis on board accountability in the Arts Council England guidance for NPOs/IPSOs[2].

Mathew was kind enough to explain their approach to doing this, and agreed for us to share this so that others might learn from their experience.

Below is Mathew’s description of what they did in his own words. Thanks again to QTH for their continued support of the Toolkit!

External view of the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch Building
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Articulating Ambitions Workshop


“We created a process for engaging our board and senior leadership team around articulating our ambitions and we feel like we’ve cracked it.

We set up a three-hour workshop with board members, members of our senior leadership team and members of our senior management team. The senior leadership team is a new thing for us. It’s kind of our think tank about the future, whereas the senior management team is more about the day-to-day running of the business. It was great to bring together those three different sets of governance, executive and senior management.

We didn’t get all the board members to attend the workshop, which is perhaps something that most organisations would probably struggle with too. We had a third of them because it was during the day, but we had five board members. They weren’t necessarily the members which had the most prior engagement with the Toolkit and the evaluation process, but it didn’t limit the effectiveness of the workshop.

Before the workshop, I circulated all the dimensions, along with the current five strategic aims for our organisation.”


“I began the workshop by talking through some Toolkit reports which we created based on our Spring 2023 season. I did a ‘compare and contrast’ of the dimension results across the different events to get people thinking and talking about it. The people at the workshop really enjoyed that.

Next, I introduced the change from the previous set of core dimensions[3] to the new dimensions framework which we can select from. They had already seen this as they were circulated beforehand, but I explained a little bit about the changes so that everyone had the same information.”

Selecting the dimensions

“After those introductions, we broke the people there into groups of three or four people – one from SMT, one from SLT and one from the board – and set each group the task of choosing the best twelve dimensions against our strategic aims.

They had such a ball doing this! This was one of the funniest afternoons I’ve had at our theatre. It was competitive and really enjoyable.

Once each group had selected their twelve dimensions, these were shared with the rest of the group. There were some which were unanimous; for example, the dimensions in the Environment domain as there are only two in that domain and we’re very focussed on that. The unanimous dimensions were fast-tracked to the final cut.

In general, we found that there was some overlap, but not a lot, which meant that there was still quite a bit of work to do. We ended up with a long list of about thirty dimensions.”


Whittling down the dimensions

“We did a couple of things to go from the set of 30 to the 12 that we ended with.

Firstly, we did an exercise where everybody had to vote on the ones that didn’t already have a unanimous agreement. If the dimension didn’t get at least half of the people in the room voting for it, then it didn’t get onto the list. After this step we ended up with seventeen dimensions.

Finally, we took the seventeen and did a detailed analysis just with the senior leadership team. We carefully worked through the nuance of each of them and considered their value and the precise wording. At the end of this process, we ended up with our twelve dimensions.”


What next

“Now that we’ve got our set of twelve dimensions which map onto our strategic aims, we’re moving towards applying them to everything we do in the programme: presentation, co-produced, participation, and any kind of partnership work; for example, the local cultural education partnership which we facilitate.

The creative lead on the project selects six from the twelve for each different activity.

We began doing this in August 2023, and are really excited about what we can learn from using the new chosen dimensions and will be reporting back on progress in 2024.”




Through reading about the experiences of QTH, Toolkit users can learn that the process of Articulating Ambitions doesn’t require board members to be experts in the Impact & Insight Toolkit or the dimensions.  Getting the board involved in Articulating Ambitions can be a valuable, uniting, and, crucially, fun(!) activity. Encouraging input from various voices within an organisation to identify and measure what matters to them fosters teamwork and generates genuinely useful data for its development.

We look forward to hearing more from QTH as their practice evolves and their insight deepens.



[1] Dimensions are inbuilt, standardised questions that have been co-created with the sector to capture data relating to outcomes and qualities. See more information in our Demystifying Dimensions blogpost.

[2] See Arts Council England’s ‘Key Information for 2023-26 NPOs and IPSOs – Relationship Framework’ .

[3] In the previous Toolkit project, 2019-23, NPOs needed to use a pre-selected set of dimensions in their evaluations, known as the ‘core’ dimensions.