We have now launched the Impact & Insight Toolkit, available to all Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations and Sector Support Organisations. Our next step will be working closely with creative practitioners across the sector to help everyone understand the value of their work.

One exciting feature of the Impact & Insight Toolkit is the self-assessment evaluations, part of the mandatory requirements for Band 2 & 3 NPOs and encouraged for Band 1s and SSOs. Integrating self-assessment into your evaluation framework can be a really useful way for you to understand what your team is trying to achieve and whether or not you have achieved it.

To build self-assessment surveys it’s important to be asking the right questions. Arts Council England has identified core dimension questions for NPOs to use for mandatory evaluations, these include:

  • Concept: It was an interesting idea
  • Distinctiveness: It was different from things I’ve experienced before
  • Challenge: It was thought-provoking
  • Captivation: It was absorbing and held my attention
  • Relevance: It has something to say about the world in which we live
  • Rigour: It was well thought through and put together
  • Risk: The artists/curators really challenged themselves with this work
  • Originality: It was ground-breaking
  • Excellence: It’s one of the best examples of its type that I have seen

As well as these, you can also add additional custom questions specific to your project, artform and location.

Take, for example, a month-long exhibition that you’re evaluating as part of your Impact & Insight Toolkit mandatory evaluations. You can send a self-assessment survey to the exhibition’s Curator, the Head of Development and the Marketing Assistant ahead of the preview night to find out what their expectations of the show are. Once the show has come to an end, you can then ask the same group of people to answer the same questions about how elements of the show were perceived, informed by your understanding of how the show worked out in practice. By following these steps, you will have a clear understanding of whether you have achieved the things you had set out to achieve, or whether outcomes you hadn’t predicted came about in response to the show.

To make the most out of the Toolkit, we encourage you to share your self-assessment survey with a number of colleagues in a range of positions within your organisation. These could be artists, curators, development, marketing or engagement staff. By involving more of your colleagues, you will gain feedback from multiple points of view; this will help build a bigger picture of insight from those working closely with the project.

Finally, once you have collected your self-assessment survey data, it is easy to build, share and report on your findings. The reporting pages within the Toolkit show the prior and post self-assessment results alongside peer and public survey responses. As the peer and public surveys will also contain the core ACE dimension questions, you will be able to triangulate your results to see how each group answered each question. Following this structured evaluation approach will help you to predict outcomes for future exhibitions, monitor progress over set periods of time, and understand what a variety of colleagues have to say about the work your organisation is producing.

If you are interested in knowing more about how your organisation can benefit from self-assessment, you can check out a recording of Siân’s webinar she ran in April on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/n_1oFAK5FsQ



Image Credit: Martin Whatson “Behind the Curtain” via artsy.net