This Action Area formed in 2013 to support evaluation that embodies values and practices congruent with art, culture and social justice work. Led by Steering Committee members Pam Korza, Animating Democracy/Americans for the Arts; Carlton Turner, Alternate ROOTS; and Maurine Knighton, Nathan Cummings Foundation, the group aims to shift conventional evaluation practices by reinforcing values of equity, inclusion, context, and social justice.
The Action Area believes that values-based evaluation grounded in art, culture, and social justice thinking and practices can:
- improve the practice and efficacy of our work
- build a compelling case about the power of arts and culture to affect social transformation
- recruit allies, increase funding, and build public value
In 2015, the Evaluation Action Area is partnering with Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation to implement the Evaluation Learning Lab. The Lab created a theory of change which guides work with 20 arts practitioners, evaluators, and funders to build practical knowledge and resources in three areas:
- Measuring social impact
- Evaluating the artistic/aesthetic dimensions
- Equalizing power in evaluation
Lab learning exchanges combine case studies; presentation of existing evaluation theories and approaches; analysis of current frameworks, criteria, guidelines, and tools; and explorations of new tools for ethical practices. Lab activities include:
- A framework of aesthetic characteristics and indicators to help assess aesthetic process and product/experience of art, culture and social justice work
- Radical Propositions to inspire useful frameworks and /or promote new discourse such as:
· Guidelines for right-sizing expectations of social outcomes and evaluation in relation to scope of project, resources available, etc.· Panelist Pledge to observe a set of cultural equity principles in reviewing proposals for grant and project opportunities.
- Panel review tools and recommended practices to assist funders, panelists, and applicants to work toward relevant standards and equity in grantmaking
Participants in the Evaluation Learning Lab include: Kiley Arroyo,Cultural Strategies Council and Slover Linett Audience Research; Andrea Assaf, artist, Art2Action; John Borstel, artist; Denise Brown, Leeway Foundation; Chris Dwyer,RMC Research; Rahwa Ghirmatzion, PUSH Buffalo; James Kass, YouthSpeaks; Maurine Knighton, The Nathan Cummings Foundation; Lisa Yun Lee, University of Chicago and Imagining America; Jose Serrano McClain, Queens Museum; Stephanie McKee, Junebug Productions; Wendy Morris, Intermedia Arts; Judy Nemzoff, San Francisco Arts Commission; Lisa Marie Pickens, evaluation consultant; Erin Potts, RPM; Nick Slie, Mondo Bizarro; Jessica Solomon, Art in Praxis; Carlton Turner and Keryl McCord, Alternate ROOTS; Mark Valdez, theater artist; Rise Wilson, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; Pam Korza and Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy/Americans for the Arts.