Voices of War & Peace: The Great War and its Legacy
Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its Legacy is a WWI Engagement Centre funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund, and as such faces the challenges of any project involving multiple funding streams, partner organisations, community and groups. The Lab is currently assessing the reach, relevance and effectiveness of the centre’s events and activities. The evaluation will contribute to the development of the centre’s projects through informing future funding applications.
Like many large collaborative research projects, Voices of War involves various academic partners (nine universities across the Midlands) initiating relationships and projects with community groups, so it was important to first explore how expectations had been met and how the project ran, across three metrics:
- Reach, inclusivity and gender & cultural diversity.
- Collaboration with Heritage Lottery Fund and HLF-funded community groups.
- Engagement online and offline.
Whilst community groups might have experience with HLF, and academic partners more experience with research funders such as AHRC,it is less common that all four parties be incorporated, so those opportunities and also tensions demanded some attention.
Having proposed the monitoring and evaluation work and secured AHRC-funding to undertake it, we started by organising face-to-face structured interviews with each academic partner, as their experience would give the most insight. Representatives from the community partner groups are also currently being interviewed, since, alongside their audiences, we have identified them as key beneficiaries of this impact assessment work. In addition, we devised a remote website testing exercise, asking people to record an informal 10-minute session with the website at their convenience before completing an online form to gather responses (both quantitative and qualitative).
Through organising offline and online interviews with project partners over a period of three months, and a series of focus groups, remote website testing methods and website content analysis, the Lab is assessing the impact of the VoW project based on the three criteria as outlined above. The largely qualitative responses are being analysed to identify and present key learning themes, and will form the basis of an evaluation narrative report. This report will in turn inform part of VoW’s reporting process to their funder AHRC, but will also be significant in informing the submission of an extension bid (2017-2019).
The impact assessment of the Voices WW1 Engagement Centre by the M&E Lab has been invaluable for us, demonstrating that the work we’ve been doing since 2014 has had a marked effect on academics and community organisations and on the ways in which they collaborate on co-designed projects based around WW1 commemorations.
Dr Nicola Gauld, Coordinator for Voices of War and Peace