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Context – Ambition and Quality

Ambition and Quality is one of Arts Council England’s Investment Principles, and every organisation that has been granted National Portfolio Organisation status for the next funding period is required to demonstrate their commitment to this principle.

A good place to start thinking about this is to consider the two key components for Ambition and Quality:

  • Ambition: The formulation and articulation of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.
  • Quality: The delivery of your activity and the evaluation of it against your ambitions.

Establishing an evaluation framework is incredibly useful when it comes to evidencing commitment to the Ambition and Quality investment principle.

However, it is important for all those that are interested in understanding perceptions on their work to have an evaluation framework in place, not only those with funding from ACE!


Evaluation Frameworks

Put simply, an evaluation framework is a plan that:

  • States your ambitions for a work
  • Defines measurable outcomes relating to the ambitions
  • Collects data against these outcomes
  • Measures the work’s success against the outcomes
  • Enables you to learn from the results

Having a framework facilitates a systematic approach to evaluation, helping you to deliver effectively against your ambitions and develop your work.


Quality Evaluation Frameworks

When we talk about quality, what do we mean?  Well, quality will mean different things to different organisations. Therefore, the first thing to do is to work out what quality looks like for your organisation and the work you will be evaluating.

You will need to establish your ‘quality indicators’ – what do you want people to say about your work?  What are the markers of high-quality work for your organisation?

As an organisation, identify and agree on what these quality indicators are.  A method of measuring these qualities should be inserted into your evaluation framework to make it a ‘quality evaluation framework’ (QEF).

A QEF will enable you to clearly state:

  • What quality means to your organisation
  • Your plans for the collection of data
  • The extent to which the work you’re evaluating is meeting your definition of quality

Therefore, a QEF is an evaluation framework which specifically tracks the aspects of your ambitions which relate to the qualities of your work.


How can the Impact & Insight Toolkit help?

The Impact & Insight Toolkit (Toolkit) builds upon a digital evaluation tool, Culture Counts.  In Culture Counts, you can create your unique evaluations, containing surveys with questions that capture your quality indicators.  It is therefore a tool to help you understand whether your work is meeting your definition of quality.

You can use the inbuilt questions, co-created with the cultural sector, to articulate the ambitions of your organisation and work in a measurable way.  These questions, used across surveys for the public, peers and internal staff, will allow you to evidence the extent to which the work has met your initial ambitions from different perspectives.

The quantitative data collected within the Toolkit can provide an easy-to-use, important piece of the puzzle to help cultural organisations understand and reflect on how people perceive their work and the non-financial value it offers.



Image credit: Maksym Ostrozhynskyy on Unsplash

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