The Arts and Homelessness Festival (Photograph: Robert Day)
Uncovering the Social Processes of Impact Measurement: Insights from the Evaluation of Coventry City of Culture
A significant strand of the monitoring and evaluation team’s work involved Social Impact Assessment, which was given equal status with Economic Impact Assessment, to inform the evaluation of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 (UK CoC 2021).
This work was supported through the award of an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship. (The fellowship scheme provides early-career researchers with the opportunity to undertake innovative and collaborative development activities, whilst developing their experience as research specialists.)
Dr Haley Beer’s research project (undertaken at Warwick Business School) entitled Uncovering the Social Processes of Impact Measurement: Insights from the Evaluation of Coventry City of Culture was designed to use stakeholder interviews and diaries, phenomenological analysis and observations.
Its role was to examine how UK CoC 2021 stakeholders – frontline beneficiaries, employees, managers, evaluators and impact analysts – would react, interpret and adjust to a range of qualitative and quantitative social impact measurement (SIM) processes, both established and new.
Social Impact Measurement
UK cultural institutions increasingly depend on social impact measurement (SIM) of arts and culture programmes.
Social impact measurement is invaluable in determining how best to tackle inequalities in participation and engagement, ensuring that arts and culture are relevant to a variety of audiences, as well as serving to improve investment in the sector, tailoring programmes to regional and demographic circumstances and helping to create legacy effects – such as social cohesion and civic pride.
SIM is the process of defining and expressing changes in the human condition (physical, mental, emotional, artistic, cultural and spiritual) that result from organisational operations and interventions.
The demand for SIM has never been greater, as policymakers, investors and industry leaders are calling out for information that helps them understand, plan for, monitor and evidence positive contributions to societal progress.
The Social Impact of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021
Activity included working with the consultancy MB Associates – that developed four case studies which were representative of stakeholders and social outcomes across UK CoC 2021 events – as the social value lead for the monitoring and evaluation team. Findings from the studies were optimised for inclusion in the final UK CoC 2021 evaluation report.
The Future Trends series explored different aspects of UK CoC 2021, with one paper exploring Social Value Creation and Measurement in the Cultural Sector.
The commissioning process for the focus study research projects was also shaped by the inclusion of social value measurement.