Arts projects often provoke debate and discussion and it is important that consultation isn’t about creating a project through compromise and agreement. Evaluation should also allow for these differing responses. There are different levels and aims of consultation and evaluation and ways of responding to projects.
This can be on a large or a small scale – using forms such as presentations, exhibitions or questionnaires, a project working with particular groups (such as young people), or as an artwork in its own right. The impact of arts activities and projects are diverse – as are approaches for measuring them.
Thinking early on about evaluation can help you collect useful data and feedback and integrate this into the commissioning process. Evaluation can be qualitative and quantative and can happen through many approaches such as questionnaires and surveys, visitor numbers and monitoring press responses.
Referring back to your aims and objectives and the criteria of funders will help you focus on particular groups you may wish to include, and whether these are new audiences. Approaches need to be adapted – young people may want to be much more actively consulted than businesses. For instance, it can be much more informative to ask members of the public for their comments rather than to judge proposals to ensure the best results for a commission, as it is often difficult to get a rounded view and representation.