20 January 2014back

Creative Internships Blog Week 12

Faye Hobson, The MAC

This week I attended a fantastic Arts & Business NI Master class looking at Evaluating Impact in the arts and cultural sector. The speaker James McVeigh was from Festivals Edinburgh, he presented information about the evaluation process that the festivals had commissioned. The study looked into the social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts of each of the individual festivals which take place in Edinburgh throughout the year. James gave a very thorough overview of the preparation and evaluation process. He explained how the real value of this study was in the way in which Festivals Edinburgh had been able to respond to the resultant data. The outcomes have not only informed the strategy of individual festivals and Festivals Edinburgh as a group, but have also had much further reaching impacts. Festivals Edinburgh has seen their relationships with key stakeholders in areas such as government, local authorities, tourism and enterprise strengthened.

By being able to demonstrate their impact using statistics and primary data, the festivals have been able to avoid the old age old cliché of the arts being seen as a nice, but not important. This has had a vital impact in terms of development and fundraising opportunities, with James stating that they have seen Festivals Edinburgh starting to influence local and international policies within Scotland.

I found this talk really inspirational and it leads me to consider the importance of data gathering and evaluation to the arts sector. One of the key areas that I have been working on at the MAC is developing data capture processes; this has involved developing surveys and then working closely with the front of house team to carry these out. This experience has stimulated me to think about how the arts sector functions. It is not enough to put on the exhibitions and performances; there must be also be a focus on tracking this to enable reporting to funders and other stakeholders. 

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