Unintentionally I have carved out something of a niche in my repertoire, in the form of evaluation. I'm not sure if its because I naturally love to disect and deconstruct what is seemingly apparent to see what else is really going on; or whether it's simply because other people don't enjoy it and are happy to hand it to someone else. (I'm lucky in that much of my evaluation work comes through recommendation).
I know at times it's because organisations know in great detail so many things about what they do and the way they work, but need to be able to show that they have explored this objectively, and so hire an external consultant.
Often I never know how much it influences organisations to change, adapt and experiment, though I have one client who I know does read them with a fine tooth comb, come back to me query and delve deeper into some parts, and act on it annually, which is very rewarding indeed.
For reasons not exciting enough to share here, I spent much of today re-reading past evaluation reports and realising how fascinating this process of reflection really is. It was refreshing to read these again, with space and time, for what they really say, rather than in a proof reading and contract fulfilling, deadline looming frame of mind.
There are themes, successes and challenges which regularly crop up across all the evaluation work I do which disheartens me a little, I wonder why it's necessary to keep reinventing the wheel and make the same mistakes at the expense of scarce public funding. But I also know there's nothing like first-hand experiential learning to build people's professional development, that circumstances are different for everyone and something that works at one place may not in another, and the only way to really find out is to try.
But for what it's worth I will be trying to share some of these reports and uploading them here as resources in the hope that they might help others (with clients' permissions of course).
Meanwhile this one, Little Acorns, explores artists and other creative practitioners working in early years settings as part of Liverpool Capital of Culture, and is already in the public domain so feel free...
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I'm most interested in how the public, your public, whoever that may be, engages with culture and creativity.
And if it nurtures creativity and develops personal, social or professional skills I'm absolutely all ears.