Publications

International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Evaluation of Community Arts Projects and the Problems with Social Impact Methodology

Volume 26.3   2007

CLEMENTS, PAUL

 

This article focuses on the evaluation of participatory community arts programmes and analyses the shift in educational emphasis from aesthetic to social outcomes. It considers a range of theoretical models and practices in the field which includes my own experience.
The history of evaluative methodology highlights procedural concerns which are applied to current strategies of evaluating social impact. This is critiqued with regards to consent and participant intention, lack of discrimination between ‘natural’ and ‘synthetic’ instrumentality, and issues surrounding measurement and the validation of impact through social auditing.
This foregrounds broader debates concerning the politics of evaluation. An ideal democratic method is suggested that encourages participant involvement, empowerment and self-management. This is compared to normative bureaucratic and autocratic approaches steeped in top-down agendas which may exacerbate social problems.