How evaluations can influence and impact policy

How evaluations can influence and impact policy

Some organisations see evaluation work as a box-ticking exercise, a criterion of funding, or a way to prove the success of a project. However, well-planned and considered evaluations can offer much more. They produce actionable insights into the performance of a project and can have a meaningful impact and influence over future actions and policy. Here we look at how our evaluation work of Birmingham City Council’s BAME Arts Development Programme continues to shape the development of council policy.

The BAME Arts Development Programme (2016-19) aimed to increase the number of BAME Birmingham residents taking part in arts activities as audiences, participants, creators and leaders, and therefore better reflect the population of the city. M&E Lab was able to develop criteria for evaluation based on these objectives along with a schedule to deliver findings in a way to maximise their influence and impact.

It was decided a mixed-methods approach combining qualitative (interviews, observation, ethnography) and quantitative (questionnaires) methods would be used. As with all of M&E Labs evaluations, this work was framed within existing academic literature and expert understandings of the issues. To enable the evaluation to be of maximum use to Birmingham City Council, it was decided our findings would be delivered throughout the project. This saw an interim report delivered in the summer of 2018, which allowed findings to be used to inform live programs. A final event was then held at Aston Villa Park in April 2019 to share further findings with the council’s arts team.

Such a considered approach to evaluation and the delivery of findings has led to it having increased influence. Not only was it able to inform live programs, but Birmingham City Council has recently highlighted the influence of M&E Lab’s impact study and evaluation work in the development of this year’s Cultural Diversity commissioning criteria.

If you would be interested in working with M&E Lab on the planning and evaluation of your project, please get in touch with us here to find out how we can help.

Image credit: Birmingham City Council.

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