Social Value Assessment (SVA) is an expanding method for assessing the impact of funded activities, including in the cultural sphere. It is argued that this form of assessment gives both a more complete and less reductive valuation of impacts and, more fundamentally, greater understanding of potential social change achieved.
The consultancy, MB Associates, was commissioned by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and has developed four case studies. These were selected due to the technical and resource-based characteristics, which made them representative of stakeholders and social outcomes across UK CoC 2021 events. The cases are:
- Home Festival − an eight-day celebration of arts and homelessness projects in Coventry, co-produced by people with lived experience of homelessness.
- Animals! – a fun, interactive theatre in education and community performance featuring original songs, animals, humans and nature, with primary schools learning hedgehog homing from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
- Pirates of the Canal Basin – a three-day inclusive participatory theatre performance, led by Coventry theatre company EGO, that was co-created over an 8-month period and included people with multiple disabilities.
- Global Youth Series – a three-day-long cultural exchange event delivered by young people, in partnership with the British Council, exploring global issues affecting young people today.
Social Return on Investment
Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a cost-benefit methodology applied to determine the monetary value of social value created for every pound spent on an intervention.
This SROI process applied a bottom-up methodology which assessed the value created in stakeholders’ own terms, rather than through the traditional cost-benefit approach, which assumes a shared value based on results from similar interventions for all stakeholders. This process involves a before and after assessment of change with participants, scenario and sensitivity testing and validation exercises.
Primary and secondary data were collected, and analysis and validation involved approximately 10,270 participants. These participants were representative of event audiences, including citizens facing social challenges, performers, disabled artists, young creatives, school children and their families, and decision makers, amongst others.
The Differences the Projects Made
The projects each made a number of differences, these included:
- involving artists from marginalised groups
- second layer participation
- life-changing outcomes
- local cultural opportunities
- skills development
- increased esteem (self and other)
- relationships built (personal and professional)
- strategic changes.
There are many factors that enabled the projects to make a difference, these included:
- giving due time
- taking risks
- paying fairly
- cross-sector partnerships
- longer-term support
- targeting belonging
- multi-faceted approaches.
The image above was created for day one of the three-day We Move! Global Youth Series produced by My Runway Group. It was a Coventry City of Culture Trust project that was supported by the British Council.
The Future Trends: Social Value Creation and Measurement paper also explores this theme.
Mandy Barnett of MB Associates was part of the panel speaking at the Cultural Policy and Evaluation Summit, on 25 June 2021, in the early stages of the UK CoC 2021 year. (Starts at 1:44:53.)
An independent research report also provides details of the Home Arts and Homelessness Festival.