Posted by Andrea Lewis
As FIVE's artistic and cultural programs begin, so will our evaluation activities that will aim to capture some of the processes and impacts of the project. A key question underpinning evaluation activities will be: What are the key contributions arts projects might make towards 'healthy' communities, and, how will be know? Researchers will draw on broad principles that grow out of practice, and that look at issues of authenticity, engagement, innovation, personal progression and ownership by those participating in FIVE projects.
Ultimately, the purpose of evaluation in each community is to reveal how the arts may be used to improve the wellbeing of project participants – including FIFO workers and families, as well as other participating groups that will include young people, farmers and Indigenous communities – through expression, communication and building community.
Formative evaluation of our first two pilot sites, Busselton and Paraburdoo, will start in October 2013. During this developmental stage of evaluation we will asking these key questions:
- In what ways can the arts be used to build understanding about participating groups?
- How effective are the arts as tools for inquiry and expression in increasing awareness and understanding of the health and wellbeing of FIFO workers, families, young people, farmers and Indigenous communities?
- What is the impact of artistic or cultural products on community considering (i) participants – those who create the work, (ii) arts workers – those who faciliate the work, (iii) community – those who see the work, and (iv) funders – those who fund the work?
FIVE has been one of those 'lucky' projects into which evaluation has been built from pre-funding, planning stages. All too often, evaluators are called upon as a project is wrapping up, urged to provide 'data' that might show the projects 'outcomes'. While this might result in some feedback of use, achieving in-depth understanding of community work takes extended engagement and consultation, and originates in a formative process, designed to identify aspects of a project or program demanding further inquiry. The deeper understanding that results from this extended inquiry is, in turn, more likely to promote valuble action.
DADAA has had a dedicated research and evaluation program for almost ten years and for the FIVE project, we are privileged to have Associate Professor Peter Wright of Murdoch University as our academic partner. Peter will be working with Natalie Georgeff, DADAA's Research and Evaluation Coordinator.